The ‘Anyone for Tennis?’ Weeding Party

The amount of work needed to get control of the garden along the embankment of our new property has had me feeling overwhelmed. At the same time, friends have hinted that they’d like to use the tennis court before we dismantle it. So a few weeks back I put a ‘I don’t suppose anyone wants to rip out some ivy in exchange for food, cocktails and tennis?’ question, and got lots of positive replies.

So I set a date, bought food, spirits and bubbly, and tried to make a half-furnished, mid-renovation house look presentable.

I blown away by how many friends came along and how much work they did.

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Some of the guys even attacked a tree stump. Took them an hour and a half to get it out. Manly determination overcame stubborn roots, and the stump now lies defeated on the battleground.

This is what it looked like before. Well, these are the house ad pics from a few months ago, as I forgot to take ‘before’ pics. Imagine the ivy has grown several inches and onion weed and other pests have pushed through the bare patches of mulch.

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Now it’s a manageable bed almost ready for new plants.

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I’ll have to wait until new shoots of ivy and weeds come through and poison them. Only when they’ve withered away will native, slope-stablising grasses and one or two shrubs or small trees go in.

Mirror, Mirror

Pinterest has been great for finding inspiration for the new ensuite. The one at our old place was apple green and white, with a circular motif and an overall feel of modernness and fun. This time I took inspiration from the French Provincial kitchen, a couple of pics on Pinterest of bathroom with a luxury/glamour style, and some cool coloured glass sinks I bought online:

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I love those long rectangular mirrors, and last weekend I found a couple of old kitschy paintings in an antiques market with nice black frames.

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I took out the old factory-line paintings, cleaned them up and had mirrors cut for them:

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That’s the first of the new ensuite projects done. Yes, I have a couple more planned. The others are a bit more labour-intensive, so it’ll be a while before I get them done.

Taking a Sickie

Sometimes I think it’s better to be properly sick than have some nagging not-quite-rightness that isn’t bad enough to excuse taking the day off work. Last week I had nausea, headaches and a sore back for day after day, chipping away at my resolve and ability to concentrate. On Thursday after pain killers weren’t making any difference I gave up at midday and called the day a sickie.

It’s amazing how a decision like that can make the situation brighter. While I wasn’t well enough to do anything that required energy or concentration, I could muddle away in the craft room for the first time since the move.

At first I did a little tidying up, to see what project idea might grab my attention. The first one was small and undemanding:

I tried out nail polish marbling. According to the blog posts I’d seen, you put a couple of drops of nail polish in water, then dip something in. Keeping it small, I chose to dip a couple of beads. I used a black and a pale apricot nail polish so the contrast was strong. The adhesion of the nail polish didn’t seem that good, so I painted the second bead with the apricot colour before dipping. That just resulted in a completely black bead. Too much adhesion. In the meantime the first had dried, but was a bit unevenly coated, but after a coat of apricot on top to smooth it out, I found I liked it.

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Next I decided to finish the Double Heddle Leno Scarf. There actually wasn’t much left of the warp to go. Instead of unweaving it to fix the uneven width, I figured the silk was slippery enough that I could narrow the wide part at the start by pulling the weft thread tighter at the sides. I was right – it worked a treat.

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So that was one new project tried and one WIP finished. Not bad for a sick day.

Plans Underfoot

I don’t expect that all the things I made for the old house will find the perfect spot here, but some have in ways that have been a pleasant surprise. The t-shirt and denim rag floor rugs proved to be exactly what I needed in the kitchen and bathroom to make the hard tile floor bearable for my still-sensitive feet. (I got plantar fasciitis at the beginning of the year.)

We’ve not needed floor rugs before. I made them because I like the look of them. Now we do – and we need big ones. There are three uncarpeted areas that need protection here: under the dining table, in the family room, and on a small area between the kitchen and the hall.

After pricing commercial rugs in the sizes we need I got a little dizzy and started googling DIY floor rug ideas instead. I’d weave them, but my loom can only make 80cm wide strips. I don’t like the look of strips stitched together, or the thought of the loom being occupied with floor rugs for a long time, so I’ve been looking at non-loom rag rug DIYS or methods that only require a simple, small loom.

There are various tutorials out there for making rugs from braided rag strips. One kind has you hand or machine stitch the braid into a coil, but with rugs the sizes I’m thinking of it will be too hard to hold and manipulate it under the machine. There’s a ‘no-sew rag rug‘ method that’s appeals more.

I reckon I could also make a rug by crocheting around the rag strips with heavy cotton thread, like I did for the coaster below using linen thread around heavy twine:

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All of those methods involve lots of twisty, fiddly RSI-inducing work for the hands, however. There’s a basketry method similar to the crochet one where you simply hand sew each round to the last, but it might be too slow for a large rug.

Recently an email from Interweave reminded me of pin looms. Perhaps I could make a larger pin loom to weave squares on then join them together to form a rug. It would make the majority of the work do-able while watching tv at night. Rather like crocheting granny squares.

And there’s another idea: granny squares crocheted from rag strips using a huge hook. It still might aggravate the RSI in my hands, however.

One rag rug method that I’m not considering seriously because it’s very slow is the rya or ‘shag’ rug one, where you knot short strips onto a mesh. Still, it is very appealing, especially done with soft t-shirt material.

Other DIY floor rug ideas I’ve found include buying a cloth drop sheet and painting it, or embellishing a coir rug. The former wouldn’t provide a softer surface to walk on, and the cat would consider the latter a giant nail sharpening mat.

I think a little experimenting with pin looms is in order. But if you know of another cheap DIY floor rug method, let me know.

WIP-lash!

As the trials an tribulations of pool ownership continue, investigation commence into how to prevent the neighbour’s back yard washing into ours next time there’s a storm, and the excitement of the ensuite/WIR renovation extends a week longer than scheduled, I’ve been dipping my toe into crafty waters. Just one toe, and not very deeply, but it’s a start.

So I thought I’d do another bloggy exercise to get those crafting brain cells firing: the WIP update.

Alan’s Portrait:
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Just the arms to do. I’ve not gone to art classes for two weeks, and probably won’t make it this week, so hopefully I can get back to it next week.

Double Trouble Baby Blankets:
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Still waiting for me to add the binding, but not that the craft room is tidy I have room to set up the sewing machine.

Grey Vest:
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I got this far before moving house. Not sure if I should add more and/or if I should put some of the same stitching on the matching skirt. Part of the reason I’m hesitating is that I’m not sure I like how I’ve finished the stitching at the back. The ends kept working their way out again so I’ve knotted them, and it looks messy. But who cares what it looks on the inside, eh?

Two Heddle Leno Scarf:
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Haven’t touched it since the move. I’m not liking how it’s wider at the beginning and I’m thinking of unweaving and starting again. I’ve not had trouble with weaving pulling in at the edges this much before, and I’m guessing it’s because the yarn is slippery silk.

The Art Necklace:
What art necklace?

Kogin Tissue Cosy:
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I’ve worked on this little kit three times now, and it has proved to be a good interesting-but-not-too-challenging project for evenings of post-house move/reno exhaustion.

Eye:
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My travel craft project. Went to Brisbane with me.

Inkle Band:
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Another travel project. Not on the WIP list in the sidebar because I always have one on the go.

Finishing these projects seems achievable now that I’ve spent a little time thinking about what I need to do. I just need to make time to do it – and not get distracted by new project ideas and gardening.

Have to say, being stuck on ADSL internet speeds makes blogging about craft a test patience.

Craft Room

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Still some tidying to do. I did most of it in a fit of obsessive organising. I even made a scale drawing in Illustrator of the wardrobe to help me work out what would fit where.

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The left side is for paper-related craft, the right for fibre-related craft. The middle shelves and drawers are for everything else. Art materials and tools went into my tool trolley in the laundry, and the art instruction books and canvasses into the huge laundry cupboard. I rearranged the loom, knitting machine and tables until they fit reasonably well.

And then… well, more important things took away my attention and some last boxes of craft-related stuff were shoved in there, leaving the craft room not quite organised enough to comfortably use. I suspect I need a big surge of inspiration to push me into finishing. Maybe it’ll come soon. After all, I’ve done a bit of a tidy up of my to-do lists on this blog, and that often leads me to tackle projects.

Well, it turned out writing the above was the push I needed. A few hours later I started finding homes for the contents of boxes added after the first tidy-up, and repacking the wardrobe more efficiently with the help of my trusty Illustrator file. I turned the loom 90 degrees and liked it better that way. I’m sure there’ll be more adjusting, but I feel like I could start working on a project now, without having to spend a few hours making room for it first.

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Have I explained the missing wardrobe doors? The wardrobe in this room has three doors to the hanger spaces on either side of the central drawer and shelf section. There’s an inconvenient beam blocking entry 1/3 and 2/3 across each section. The only reason we can think of is that the beam is extra support for the shelves. We’re going to add internal supports to the shelves, remove the beam and join two doors on either side with hinges so they open concertina-style.

Once we find time. Which could be a while.

A Relaxing Sunday Morning

On Saturday I was determined to do nothing much more than bake a birthday cake for Paul. I came close enough to it that I was satisfied I’d finally had the rest day I’d been craving. We even went for a walk – my first since I got plantar fasciitis in January – and my feet didn’t hurt afterwards. Win!

On Sunday I wanted us to get out of the house together but not rushing about on house-related tasks. We went to a Native Plant Nursery, which kinda is about housey stuff, but the idea was to get inspired and have morning tea in the cafe.

Just after we got there we heard a loud bang, and went outside to discover there’d been a car accident outside. So we spent the next hour helping out. Paul ripped one car’s door open so the female driver of one car could be reached, and I consoled the guy in the other car. His foot was twisted and stuck under the brake pedal, and he was a bit freaked out. It’s been a long time since I did my first aid course, but all I really needed to do was be there, reassuring him, telling him not to try and free his foot, and let him know where his family were and that they were okay. He had no memory of what had happened and was horrified by the thought someone might have been hurt because of him.

The police arrived, then the fire brigade, then a friend of the guy from his work, so I handed over the task to a more familiar face. An ex-nurse who had seen the accident was tending the young woman, and asked us to keep an eye on her children. At that point the ambulances started arriving, and eventually the nurse gave her witness statement and we were free to leave.

We really needed a cuppa by then! The weird thing was, we were on a kind of wobbly high for the next few hours. The after-effects of adrenalin, I suspect. I got some great advice and inspiration from the nursery. And then we went home via Bunnings and I bought a chain saw.

I haven’t been game enough to try using it yet.

The Excitement of New Home, Garden and Pool Ownership

This week has been a both exciting and stressful. I came home from a writers festival with a fresh, gooey cold, but only really got one day to rest and recover. Last week we had a few ducted heating and cooling quotes, and aside from them all being so different in price and approach that there must be something dodgy about one, if not two of them, one of the quoters said we shouldn’t use our current system because the ducts under the house had been squashed and it could be dangerous.

So, of course, the weather turned unseasonably cold. In fact, on Tuesday we had a freak storm that dumped hail the size of marbles first, then so much ordinary-sized hail that there were drifts of it on the roof, the pool filled to almost overflowing and the water became filthy with debris from our garden and the soil washed down from below the neighbour’s house.

Looking up the internet for advice, I emptied some of the water in the pool that night, then the next day tried to run the filter in order to start cleaning it. But the filter controller packed it in, and I wound up having to call the pool shop. The guy they sent out said it was unfixable – too old and no parts available – so we’d have to get it replaced. That, on top of the cleaning and chemicals, is going to be a substantial unanticipated cost.

The ensuite renovation began on the Monday, but thankfully that’s been mostly trouble-free, though it has demanded a lot of attention. We had two frantic, exhausting days of getting the old house ready for sale. And we’ve been running around getting some last moment items for the ensuite.

So I’ve been looking forward to the weekend, determined to not spend it doing anything except, perhaps, bake a birthday cake for Paul. The bathroom renovators are here again, but I was determined to pretend they weren’t. It was one of them who noticed that the grass by our driveway had risen into a water-logged dome – a water main has broken. I’m hoping this has nothing to do with the plumber’s work yesterday.

I really need to check if the neighbour is aware of the storm damage below their house, but a discussion on Facebook has made me realise I’m a lot crankier today than I was aware, and the last thing I want to do is get off on the wrong foot with a new neighbour.

Instead I’m doing lots of research on the internet for how to combat erosion and water run-off.

Goodbye, Hello

The first move is done. We’ve officially switched to preparing the old house for sale. The workroom looks like this now:

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Waiting for a quick tidy-up coat of paint.

Most of what was in it has gone into two and a half smaller rooms at the new house. I now have an office, a craft room and an art/laundry room.

The office is neat and uncluttered, with two desks, two bookcases, a filing cabinet and a small built-in wardrobe. The craft room is the opposite, and I had to rearrange the loom, knitting machine, drawing board and table a few times before I found a set up that kinda-sorta works – though that’s yet to be proven as I haven’t had time to do any craft in there yet. The art stuff has just been stuffed into an existing cabinet in the laundry and my tool chest.

I’m hoping the separation of work and play means I don’t get distracted when I’m supposed to be working, and end up not crafting when I’m chasing a deadline thanks to wanting to get as far from the computer as possible during breaks.

I also culled some craft items. The bulk of it was books and magazines, including all of my Interweave Knits collection, which has found a new home with a friend. After all the box packing and unpacking and carting stuff from house to house, I’m not sad to be shrugging off some stuff I’ve never got around to using or can’t use now thanks to RSI. I can’t believe we still have another move to go, though it should be mainly furniture, wardrobe and kitchen items.

Even half-furnished, even with a few problems like a broken central heading system, this new house is lovely. It feels like I’m meant to be here.

Moving house. Who’d do it?

New house: Settled. Locks rekeyed, arranged to have some old doors replaced, garage scrubbed out, arborist consulted, bathroom reno company measure up done, bathroom stuff bought or ordered, solar panel company consulted, kitchen cabinet removed so fridge will fit.

Old house: Full of boxes. Oh, so many boxes. (Over 250 with more to pack.) Painter currently refreshing exterior.

Craft: Just some very simple embroidery.

Art: All but finished another portrait. Nowhere to photograph it. Started another.

Sanity: Stretched but intact.