Thursday, 9 July 2015

Bums on seats

Recycling, repurposing, upcycling - we're all encouraged to waste less and re-use, whatever terms we use.
Last week I re-whatevered my dining chairs.
Four dark oak chairs bought second-hand in about 1978 or 79 for £5. They've already served us well for a long time.
All I needed to give them a new lease of life was some paint, four old pairs of denim jeans and a heavy-duty stapler and staples.
First I repainted the wooden frames, starting with a light coloured cheap emulsion as undercoat and then with a coat of Dulux satinwood in Grey Steel 2

Now to re-cover the drop-in seats. I pulled off the old covers (my Mum's choice of fabric from the time we swapped chairs. I'm sure she wouldn't mind!)

Then I measured the width and depth of the seats and added a generous amount all round for turning under.
I used four old pairs of well worn jeans

Cut off the waistband and cut out the zip
 

Cut up the inside leg seams and open them out flat
Centreing the measurements on the centre-back seam, cut to the size needed
 

Fold the curved centre back/seat seam across to make a flat piece.
 
Pin and stitch down - I did a small herringbone stitch on the right side which kept it flat.
Once all the denim pieces are ready its time for the fun part - covering the seat pads.

Place the fabric piece over the seat pad so the pockets are towards the back of the seat and the fabric is centred. Turn over. Pull the fabric to the underside of the back edge of the seat so you have about 2cm underneath. Put in a couple of staples near the middle underneath the back edge of the seat. Now lift the seat and smooth the fabric from back to front, turning it under the front edge. Pull it fairly tight and put in some staples under the front edge of the seat. Then pull the fabric out to the sides of the seat and staple it under the side edges.

Making neat tight corners is important, or the seats may not drop back into their spaces. I pulled the fabric out from the corner, turned it under and put in one staple,
then folded in the side edge and stapled it before folding and stapling the front (or back) edge. I had to trim away some of the surplus fabric so it wasn't too bulky.

Once the seat pads were fitted back into the frames I was really pleased with the result.

I have plan to use up the fabric from the legs of the jeans too - watch this space!!

Chelsea Physic Garden

A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in London. One of the highlights was a visit to the Chelsea Physic Garden.
a less welcome visitor
I spent a very peaceful five hours wandering among the beds and borders enjoying this lovely calm place, right in the centre of London.
Puya chilensis - about 2.5m tall

The garden has a long history, it was originally used by apothecaries for growing the herbs and medicinal plants they used. Now it is a research and educational garden which is also open to the public (but not on Saturdays or Mondays).
the dye garden

You wont be surprised that my main interest was the dye plant section of the 'Useful Plants' garden, but really every corner of the garden was interesting.
Genista tinctoria - dyers' broom or dyers' greenweed
 
Reseda luteola - weld
 
Rubia tinctoria - madder
 
Asperula tinctoria - dyers' woodruff
 
Galium odoratum
 
Baptisia australis - false indigo
 
Rhus typhina - sumac

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Seaside workshops and knitting

At last my new workspace in Oban is ready to host knitting groups and workshops!
workshops with a view!

Here is a programme for the next few months - but I may add some additional surprise workshops so watch this space...

The address is 22A Alexandra Place, The Esplanade, Oban - that's the building next to the old Oban Times building. It is on the ground floor so fully accessible.

Knitting Group - informal drop-in get togethers, mostly on the first Saturday of the month, from 10 - 1. Bring your knitting and come for a chat!
Dates: 6th June, 4th July, 8th August (because the 1st is the Lorn Show!), 5th Sept, (no knitting group in October, sorry!) 7th November and 5th December.

Workshops
Sunday 5th July - Drop Spindle spinning for beginners  10am - 1pm £42

A drop spindle lets us slow the spinning process right down and get to grips with each phase of it. The skills you will learn are transferable to a spinning wheel but a spindle is also a low cost, portable and versatile tool in its own right which will let you spin a wide variety of yarns. In this workshop you will learn to spin singles yarns, and how (and why) to ply them to create a 2-ply yarn.

Sunday 2nd August - Folded book origami - 10 am - 1 pm £30


Upcycle an unwanted hardback book into an unusual decorative piece. We will learn how to fold the book's pages to form a word (it doesn't have to be a woolly word!) or design.

Sunday 6th September - Spinning with a spinning wheel - 10am - 5pm £75

Relative beginners can learn the basics of spinning with a spinning wheel while more experienced spinners can improve or learn new techniques to get the best from their wheels. Let me know in advance if there is something specific you want to cover. I have three different types of wheels you can try, or bring your own if you already have one.

Sunday 8th November - Knitting socks two - at - a time and toe-up 10am - 1pm £30

Ever experienced second-sock-syndrome? If you knit them both at once you won't!
One circular needle and two balls of yarn - sounds complicated but once you get going it really isn't.
Ever run out of yarn, or patience, before you got the sock finished? If you knit them toe-up, once you have completed the heel you can cast off any time, short or long, any length of leg you choose (or the yarn allows) and it is much easier to try them on as you go to check that they fit.
Combine the two techniques and you seem to be able to quickly complete a pair of socks which fit and match each other perfectly. You'll never be stuck with single or uncompleted socks again!! You will get your socks started during the workshop, and by the time you leave you will know all you need to know to get them finished at home. Please bring 100g of sock yarn and a long (100cm+) circular needle of the size  you need to get the correct tension (probably between 2.5mm and 3mm).

For all workshops, unless stated materials are included and equipment is provided for use during the workshop. Tea and coffee are provided. Full day workshops include a break for lunch but lunch is not provided.
Places are limited so please book early.
Please e-mail me at deborah.gray7@btinternet.com to book a place. I will then ask for a deposit, which is not refundable if you cancel (but would be fully refunded in the unlikely event that I had to cancel the workshop). Payment of the deposit secures your place. The balance is payable at the start of the workshop.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Filare in montagna - spinning in the mountains

Un corso di filatura la settimana scorsa in un posto incantevole - Ostana in Alta Val di Po, provincia Cuneo (Piedmonte)

Spinning workshops  last weekend in a most enchanting place up in the Alps in the High Valley of the Po,  south-west of Turin

Ero contentissima essere invitato dare un corso al Agriturismo a Nostro Mizoun / Azienda Agricola di Marina e Roberto Miretto.
I was delighted to be invited to teach a spinning course at the Agriturismo A Nostro Mizoun and farm of Marina and Roberto Miretto.

Sono arrivata a mezzanotte, quindi tutto buio durante il viaggio dal aeroporto di Casselle, non ho visto niente. Una sorprisa mi aspetta in mattina quando ho aperto la finestra!
I arrived at midnight, so it was dark for the whole journey from the airport at Casselle and I couldn't see anything of the views. A real surprise awaited me when I opened my window in the morning!!

All'azienda agricola ci sono capre cashemere, asini e cane pastore. Fanno crescere anche piante diverse per liqore, prodotto nel suo proprio laboratorio.
On the farm there are cashmere goats, donkeys and sheepdogs. They also grow various plants for flavouring liqueurs which are made in their own workshop.

L'aria e' pura e pulita, silenzio tranne un rumore basso dei torrenti, e dei ucelli che cantano

The air is pure and clean, silent except for a low quiet rumbling of waterfalls and the singing of birds.

E le viste sono incomparibile! And the views are amazing!

Venerdi, dopo mi ho preparato per il corso, ho avuto tempo per una passiegata al Pion del Charm - 1632 m su livello del mare. Gia' piu alta dei monti piu' grandi della Scozia. E in fronte, il Monviso, 3,800 m.

On Friday, once I had prepared for the workshops, I had time for a stroll to Pion del Charm - 1632 metres above sea level, already higher than the highest mountains in Scotland, while overlooking the other side of the valley is Monviso, at 3,800 metres.
Monviso

Cinghiale! Wild Boars!

and wild flowers...


Uno dei abitanti della azienda e JeanLoup, un pastore dei Pirenei, taglo di una pecora e anche lanoso. Roberto e Maxim le avevano pettiato, e mi hanno dato una busta della sua 'lana'. Naturellmente la ho filato...
JeanLoup

One of the farm residents is JeanLoup, a Pyreneean sheep dog, the size of a large sheep and about as woolly. Roberto and maxim had combed him and presented me with a bag of his 'wool'. Naturally I spun it...

Dopo una buona cena preparata da Marina, abbiamo guardato una mare di nebbia arrivare nel val di Po
 

We had a lovely dinner prepared by Marina, and as it got dark we watched a sea of white mist moving up the valley.
Sabato mattina sono arrivati i corsisti, due che conoscevo prima, otto amici nuovi
On Saturday morning the course participants arrived, two of whom I knew already, and eight new friends.
 

Abbiamo lavorato in un spazio ampio e molto commodo, come sempre abbiamo comminciato con un vello intero, sucido, dalle isole Shetland che avevo spedito per il corso.

La divisione del vello secondo la qualita' delle fibre , la cardatura e la pettinatura ci hanno occupate per la mattina.
 
 
 
 

We worked in a large and comfortable space, ideal for the worshops, as usual starting with a whole raw fleece, from Shetland, which I had sent over for the course. Sorting the fleece according to the quality of the fibre, carding and combing kept us occupied for the rest of the morning. 
Nel pomeriggio hanno imperato tutti a filare con fusi semplice. Dopo la filatura di due 'singoli', li hanno binato in un filato a due capi, poi hanno fatto ognuno la sua prima matassa.
 

In the afternoon everyone learned to spin using simple drop spindles. After spinning two singles yarns, they plied them into a 2-ply yarn, and everyone made their first skein.
 

Il ristorante del agriturismo era pieno per la cena, abbiamo mangiato troppo bene!
The agriturismo restaurant was full for dinner and we ate too well!!
Per Domenica, abbaimo l'uso di tre filatoi Ashford Kiwi, anche Andrea ha portato il suo filatoio di modello tradizionale della zona.
 
Lo avevo provato la sera prima - non era facile ad usare e Andrea ha fatto bene a produrre un filato regolare e ben ritorto, ma ha devuto pedalare fortemente!

On Sunday we had the use of three Ashford Kiwi spinning wheels, and Andrea had brought his own wheel, a traditional style for the area. I had had a go with it the evening before - it was not easy to use and Andrea did really well to produce an even and well twisted yarn, but he had to treadle hard and fast to do it!

Ognuno ha filato un capo col filatoio Kiwi e un capo col fuso, e hanno tutti fatto la binatura col filatoio. Al fine del pomeriggio hanno tutti la sua seconda matassa.

The others all spun one singles with a Kiwi wheel and one with a spindle, and plied them together using a spinning wheel.
By the end of the afternoon everyone had completed their second skein of yarn.

Perche' era la festa della mamma il ristorante era ancora pieno, e il pranzo molto buono.
Because it was Mothers' Day the restaurant was even busier and the lunch was excellent.
In pomeriggio eriamo interotti per l'arrivo di Ambrogino e Luca
- nuovi residenti dell'azienda - due alpaca! JeanLoup il grande cane pastore li ha preso in cura, ma i asini erano un po antipatico al'inizio!

In the afternoon we were interrupted by the arrival of Ambrogino and Luca, new residents of the farm - two alpacas! JeanLoup the big sheepdog took them in charge, but the donkeys didn't like them much at first.
Nessuno ha volute partire di questo posto cosi bello, ma pian piano hanno salutati l'arrivederci, con l'esperenza di un secondo corso di filatura, forse anche della tintura al sole.
 

No-one really wanted to leave such a beautiful place, but slowly goodbyes were said, with hopes for a second spinning course, and maybe some solar dyeing as well.

Ho sistemata la roba, mi sono rilassata con la maglia sulla terassa prima di mangiare la cena insieme con la famigla - tutti noi stanchi, ma anche soddisfatti dopo un fine di settimana impegnativo ma anche piacevole.


I sorted out all my stuff and relaxed for a while with my knitting on the terrace, enjoying the view, before having dinner with the family - all of us tired but also satisfied after a busy but enjoyable weekend.

Lunedi ho avuto solo un paio di ore dopo la collazione, per appreciare ancora questo posto incantevole, poi ho devuto partire per il lungo viaggio di ritorno alla Scozia. Fare un corso al Azienda Agricola / Agriturismo A Nostro Mizoun era una esperienza bellissimo, ho trovato amici nuove e un posto meraviglioso. Spero di poter tornare!!

On Monday I only had a couple of hours after breakfast to enjoy the peace of this enchanting place before I had to leave for the long journey back to Scotland. Teaching workshops at Azienda Agricola / Agriturismo A Nostro Mizoun was a lovely experience, I found new friends and a marvellous place. I hope to go back!!