Sometimes less is more…

…and perhaps this week has been proof of that, on the recycling front. I have only managed two forays, thanks to my still-recovering hip and other commitments; one to the Tip and one to a nearby car boot sale. But both outings were well worthwhile.

At the tip, I found some oddments of textiles needed to complete a couple of projects I heve on the go, including a fair few metres of curtain fabric still on the roll, ideal for Morsbagging. Also a complete game of Absolute Balderdash – that’ll keep us happy for a few evenings!

At the car boot sale (outside Wimborne Market on a Saturday morning) the first thing my eyes alighted on was pure treasure; an apple press. I know I already have one, but I’d been racking my brains to think of a way to raise some money for TTWimborne to buy a fruit press. Obviously, for public use, we’ll need a bigger one, and will have to fundraise; however, I’d just found out we have been allowed a stall at the Minster Fair on the Minster Green during the Folk Festival this year. What could be better than raffling (or some kind of contest, if they have stern rules about games of chance) a household-sized apple press? I know from experience how hard they are to come by and how many people would love one  – hopefully they’ll think risking a pound for a ticket is a good investment, especially as that pound will be going towards a bigger one for community use, so if they don’t win, they will at least have that to look forward to!

Then at one of the house clearance stalls, I found a bag containing several pairs of bamboo knitting needles & other oddments. He wanted several ££s, which half of me thought was too much, but it was still early in the morning’s trading & he didn’t look to be in bargaining mode, so I paid up. When I got home, I found to my delight that most the the bamboo needles were still in their packets, and thus saleable from my own stall or web shop, AND there were three sets of circular metal needles, also still in their wrappings, AND a box full of Simanco fashion cams, AND oodles of old lace snippets! I shall be uploading them (and lots of other things too) early on this week, whenever I’m not planting up my hanging baskets or front garden.

On Tuesday, Wimborne played host to Steph Bradley, who is walking the length & breadth of England telling & gathering Transition Tales. I met her at Canford Bridge and gave her lunch & a chance to rest her feet a bit before meandering through Wimborne to meet up with Tom from the Gaunt’s House community, where she was staying the night – read about it from Steph’s viewpoint here. And what a lovely, sparkly entertaining lady she is!

And last but not least, the chicken saga continues; I have had two broodies sitting for 6+ weeks. I didn’t think they’d stay put at first because it was so cold, so I didn’t arrange any hybrid chicks for them. But they sat it out, and just over four weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house who keeps a cock bird, so I begged some hopefully-fertile eggs from her and popped them under. But sadly, one of the broodies at least was turfed off the nest by someone looking for a space to lay in sometime in the first few days, and when I candled the eggs at 7 days development, two were obviously clear. I couldn’t see much in the other two because they were blue eggs, but one did look a bit darker – maybe it had a thicker shell? Anyway, day 21 came & went with no hatchlings, then day 22, day 23, etc. I was a bit worried that they’d starve, so on day 27, the first day I had any spare time, I rang round the local breeders, located one (Race Farm Poultry – thank you, Shelley!) with day-olds, and went & bought 4 best-guess-female pure breed chicks for them.

I left the warm box peeping in the shed for an hour, to get the girls used to the idea of impending motherhood, then slipped two chicks under each broody, removing the “blank” eggs, all but one. That evening, I went to take the last egg away, so that Nutmeg would be free to bring her chicks out the  next day. But horrors! There was only half a shell – oh no, I thought, it’s burst & the chicks will get infected & die! But there was no foul smell… I lifted Nutmeg up slightly, and there were altogether too many legs… THREE chicks! The last egg had hatched, at 27 days. Maybe the little sturdy, stripey chick inside needed to hear the other chicks cheeping around it before it found the strength to break out? Or maybe it incubated really slowly because  of the cold weather in the first couple of weeks? Who knows… but it’s a lovely healthy chick all the same.

The Silkin, Nutmeg & surprise legbarX chick...

If I’ve been a bit quiet this week…

…it’s because I’ve been going flat out trying to get my Web Shop open. I’m not 100% there yet, but I’m very pleased to say that it is now online, at VintageCraftStuff, although there are only about 11 “products” up there so far & you can’t buy anything yet! There’s quite a lot of work left to do; everything has to be weighed & measured for the postage calculator, for example, and I have the best part of 100 books to list, not to mention everything else! But at last I feel I’m getting somewhere. I’d love to open a real shop, but rent & rates round here are too high for the sort of turnover I’d anticipate, and I don’t want to get bogged down with commuting.

Otherwise, there’s been another attack of freegan raspberries, but this time I nearly left them too long (about 10 hours) before picking them over and sadly lost over half to mould, so only ended up with 4 smallish jars of raspberry jam. Last week, I was given a big box of celery, which has kept my dehydrator busy all week and will flavour our soups throughout the winter.  We enjoyed our day at the Pavilion hugely and gave away over 50 Morsbags; I came away with lots of ideas and hoping against hope that I might finally be able to do a Permaculture Design Course in the not-too-distant future; there’ll be one running locally before too long. Twice I’ve signed up for them elsewhere, only to have them cancelled when there weren’t enough students.

And I’m over the moon with my latest lovely acquisition from the Tip; I had to part with my lovely Willcox & Gibbs “Silent Automatic” treadle as I didn’t use it enough to justify the floor space it took up. But now I have a handcranked version, even earlier (mid 1880s?) which is tiny so I can keep it! They are really good with “difficult” threads; something to do with the tension mechanism, I suspect, so it is genuinely useful as well as “cute” in Jo’s opinion. I’ll post a pic tomorrow.

And the skein of scrap yarn has become a cosy fingercrochet hat, which I love & will wear. There’ll be more in the pipeline; it’s great fun to spin so I’m on the hunt for genuine scraps now!

Bagged!

Bagging at the Priests House...
Blissful – bagging in the sunshine…

Well, that was good fun! Jo & I set up our stall in the glorious garden of the Priest’s House Museum, on our one & only sunny summer’s day, and bagged to our hearts’ content. We gave away 30+ bags and made another 14, with assistance from various members of the public, as you can see. In fact, pleased as people were to be given a free, sturdy re-usable shopping bag made from reclaimed fabric, the machines themselves attracted a lot of interest and several people couldn’t resist having a go themselves. Which was exactly what I’d hoped for… I’ve offered to do another upcoming event down in Bournemouth, and been accepted with alacrity. So I’m cautiously hoping that this will prove to be a good way of catching people’s interest and getting the message across that something that has no value to you as it is shouldn’t just be thrown into landfill… Maybe you yourself can re-use it, with a bit of imagination, but if you can’t, someone else somewhere almost certainly can!

"Who, me?" Butter wouldn't melt in Tinkerbelle's mouth... but a sausage might!
Butter wouldn't melt in Tinkerbelle's mouth - but a sausage might...

Half the family are away in Wales at the moment so last night’s supper was cooked on the potbellied BBQ. Apart from realising that we need some kind of a guard around it to keep the assorted livestock from immolating themselves trying to get at our food, this was a great success; sausages and burgers cooked to perfection, followed by windfall apples baked under the tree they’d been growing on a few hours earlier. Sadly, though, finding an unopened packet of fondue forks at the Tip yesterday meant that toasted marshmallows were inevitable, and my skirt seems alarmingly tight this morning…

And Freecycle triumphs over Ebay, yet again. I missed out on an industrial sewing machine on Ebay at the weekend; I need one for the tough bits of my quilted bags as my dear old Jones zigzag is in serious danger of shaking itself to pieces every time I make one. I just forgot about bidding and it sold well within my upper limit. Kickself-worthy… but DH took the boys to the Bournemouth Air Show, and picked up two Freecycled machines en route. Blow me down, one turned out to be an early Singer 15, which is undoubtedly some kind of light industrial sub-model, built for strength rather than speed like the other two that have passed through my hands. Sometimes I marvel at how these things work out; I didn’t have to spend any money at all, the item I needed has found its way into my hands for free instead of being dumped! Many thanks to Tara, the donor, who nearly threw it out thinking no-one would want it as it isn’t exactly pretty, and DH for fetching it.

Just goes to show; one person’s “clutter” is another person’s opportunity…

Going public…

This Saturday (30th August) I’m taking part in a public event under the Morsbags aegis. I will be taking my rescued Singer 201K treadle to the Priest’s House Museum and making Morsbags in situ. I’m also taking along a couple of handcranks, probably Singer 99s, & pre-cut & ironed bags so that people can have a go at making one themselves. So eldest daughter and I are crouched over my latest carbon-burning extravagance – a powered cutting knife – and churning out Morsbags for dear life this week. The lads at the Tip have been magnificently helpful, hauling out vast acreages of “blokey” curtains from the fabric skip so that not all the bags are flowery!

But that’s not all they’ve found for me. My sister-in-law will be gobsmacked to be told that she is now the proud owner of two large blue cast-iron casseroles, which will go nicely with her set of rescued saucepans. Different make, Nomar rather than Le Creuset, but it works… I’m keeping the other two, as they fit nicely side by side in my oven, whilst being bigger than my two orange ones! I can’t help wondering about the story behind them; who buys four big, matching cast-iron casserole dishes, which aren’t cheap, even if you bring them back from France, then chucks them out whilst there’s still plenty of useful life left in them? Possibly someone who’s raised a big family but is downsizing now… but I do wish they’d heard of Freecycle or Waste Not Want Not, our local recycle/loan group. There were good sharp cooking knives and other stainless steel utensils down in the skip beyond my reach, too; I could run an entire shop on what people throw out, if retail premises weren’t so expensive here. Although I have heard that our Chamber of Commerce aren’t very encouraging to that kind of enterprise; they feel it’s the wrong kind of “image” for our town… so somehow they have to be brought from seeing reclaimed stuff as “secondhand & seedy” to “cutting edge/environmentally responsible/high moral ground!” Or is that, and price, the basic difference between a junk shop & an Antique Emporium? Anyway, I could, and did, rescue a very nice butcher’s block, and a big Pyrex mixing bowl, which have both gone straight back into service in my nicely old-fashioned, workable kitchen. There were proper weighing scales, too, but only a few weights. I have two sets, so let them go to an older gentleman who, like me, was fed up with buying electronic plastic scales which become useless after a year if you’re weighing anything more weighty than slimmer’s portions. 

I also splashed out 99p on a rather nice little Singer 128K on Ebay locally. On going to pick it up, and mentioning that it would probably be going off to Uganda with Tools With A Mission, the vendor happily presented me with a free 99K too! What a lovely lass… Not to mention the two that I’ve “won” on Freecycle this week, too… But I can’t quite bring myself to hand over the 320K, complete with all its attachments, that turned up a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s dried out, I’m having quite a lot of fun with that and all the pockets of my children’s worn-out jeans… I’ll post a pic when it’s finished!