Sunday, 24 April 2016

Deadline pressure

The dollshouse shed I'm building is for a group project that my club is undertaking, and the next meeting is this week, so I am experiencing deadline pressure. I don't think I blogged that at the last meeting, almost everyone except me dutifully produced their completed shed kit. Without exception, they had all assembled the provided brown cardboard pieces into a brown cardboard plain shed, and were all that evening applying the provided brown paper 'clapboard' and sandpaper roofing.  This was after being given a brief to 'use your imagination' and 'think Shed of the Year' (TV programme showcasing unusual sheds).

So my bright yellow confection is going to be the cuckoo in the nest, and I want to make it look as complete as possible in its own defense before two dozen pairs of baffled eyes are on it.  I've fitted out the inside trim now and glued on the other part of the roof. DH brilliantly drove over to the dollshouse shop in Kettering yesterday (while I was supervising the guy fitting the new floor in the study) and picked up some handrail for me. So last night I was able to construct my porch railings using the same jig that came with my other porch kit, and today I glued up the railing assemblies and applied coats of paint. Tonight I glued on the porch ceiling which will support the porch roof.

I've also done two lots of painting on the real-life garden corner arbour this weekend. I finished off the third coat on the roof bits on Friday before the floor guy came, and yesterday we put the first coat of green/blue on the side walls and trim. The base is done as well, so soon we will have to figure out how to build some kind of concrete pad for the whole thing to sit on.  The corner it will go in dips down by about a foot or more from the level of the lawn, so it needs to be a raised pad.  There's also a large shrub in the way which we will need to murder because there is nowhere else for it to go. It's just about to bloom (I think it's a Viburnum Burkwoodii) so I am letting it have one last hurrah before the axe falls (actually, probably a saw).

The study floor is looking great, apart from he ran out of tiles because it turned out he had been sent one box of the wrong colour tiles.  So he will be coming back on Thursday to finish the bit near the door.  The rest of it is done and we were able to move the furniture back in last night. I'm gradually moving my office back from my temporary camp here in DS's bedroom, but I am procrastinating about moving the old-fashioned desktop PC with its maze of cables which will all have to be re-snaked through the desk cubbies while lying awkwardly on the floor, bleah. It's very nice to be able to walk around the study without shredded bits of Victorian floorboard snagging my slippers, and I'm sure it's going to be a lot warmer now that the drafty gaps between boards are covered over.


This week I resuscitated a hibernating project which is the Que Sera Cardigan in Shilasdair cotton which I started last summer.  The fronts and backs are knit all as one up to the armholes, and I had completed around six inches.  I worked out where I was in the lace pattern and knit another couple of inches before I realised that the new knitting did not look like the old knitting.  Turned out that I had started in the wrong place, so I had to rip back to where I had re-started, then work out picking up all the stitches and yarn overs and getting my stitch markers back into the right places for repeats.  Which all took ages.  But I am back on track now and have recovered my ground and knit onwards.

I heard from Daisydaisydaisy that she received the little cotton bolero I knit for her little girl and posted last week. This is in Sirdar Ella DK which is a cotton/acrylic blend with a strand of sparkle. Daisydaisydaisy is a much better knitter than I am so it was a bit of sending coals to Newcastle but still I hope the bolero will come in useful on cooler summer days.  It is size 6-12 months.

I dug out all the squares I have knit for my 20-square Great American Aran Afghan (GAAA) to see how bad the blocking job is going to be.  I have made a rod for my own back by using the same needles for all the squares, because I liked the fabric I was getting and didn't want to have to keep swatching and switching.  It turns out that I accidentally knit 21 squares but it's just as well because one of them is hugely bigger than the rest.  I measured along the row gauge as follows:

One square at 15"
Six at 13"
Six at 12"
Four at 11.5"
Four at 11" down to 10.5"

So I think I am going to discard the 15" square (or turn it into a pillow) and try to block the rest to 13 inches.  If it looks like the smallest ones won't stretch that much then I guess I will have to pick up and knit a border around them. One advantage of being a loose knitter is that the squares have a lot of stretch in them.  I think I will have to block them in batches because I don't have room to lay out 20 13-inch squares all at once to dry.

Commuter knitting is now the Lallybroch Socks.  This is a sock pattern inspired by the Outlander series called Lady of Lallybroch by JavaPurl Designs, which I bought at I-knit Fandango a year ago. Where I also bought the sock yarn from SparkleDuck, Galaxy in the Autumn Leaves colourway (75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, 5% stellina) which I thought looked suitably tartan-like. The pattern is toe up, which I don't like doing as much, but has a pretty cable pattern on the top of the foot. Apologies for the fuzzy picture.

Other stuff

Strip cutting of quilt scraps continues.  I had a bit of a win when I discovered that part of the bulk in the box was an old pair of jeans I must have been cutting up  for something, and a felted cardigan that I had turned into a bag. I've also found a few bits of yardage that I actually want to keep, not sure why they were in the box but it may have happened in the move.  So the box is about half empty now and the strip baskets are filling up.

I have been a major procrastinator about bobbin lace lately. It's just not as much fun now that I'm not meeting up with my lace friends every week.  I have soldiered on to finish the first length of shelf edging and I've started the second. I'm taking a day course on lacemaking in May so that might inspire me to do more.

I've also spent a fair bit of time working on our Japan holiday. Having amassed a long list of Tokyo sights from guidebooks and websites, and more importantly of Tokyo craft shops, I have been trying to whittle the list down and group them by area to try to work out some kind of feasible route that we can complete in our limited time there.  Tokyo is so huge, 61% bigger than London I think I read somewhere, and it seems quite complex to actually find locations which the language issue doesn't help. I know we can't see everything (and I know DH will get grumpy if I try) and also I can't bring it all back in my suitcase either.

I picked our first rhubarb from the garden today, so it was rhubarb crumble for pudding tonight, yum.  The weeds are sprouting busily so I've sent off for some 'Strulch' which the speaker at my gardening club recommended.  It's composted straw which he said makes a really good weed-suppressing mat once it gets wet. It's also quite lightweight and is supposed to deter slugs and snails because of what it's been soaked in. He was a great speaker and went through all the different methods for propagating plants from cuttings, many of which I hadn't heard of.  Did you know you can stick a leaf cutting into compost and it will root?  I didn't.  I didn't know you could shave a bulb into slices and that it would produce new little bulblets either. The only thing is that you need some kind of giant greenhouse or coldframe to accommodate all of these rooting things for months while they are growing  bigger.  I've had enough trouble finding sufficiently sunny windowsills for the seeds I am trying to grow onwards, and the cat keeps walking on the seed trays so she can look out the window.

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