This is what my patio looks like most of the time. All the gravel round the edges pushed all over the place, and shit everywhere. I do like having free ranging chickens, but I really wish they’d just leave the damn patio alone. And no amount of sweeping helps, cos as soon as it’s clean, they go digging craters in the gravel again.


So I decided they need to be fenced off. The side of the garden by the hedgerow has some of their favourite areas in…it has the trees they can sit under when it’s too hot, a patch of ground they like to sunbathe on, and the old fire pit that is filled with ash that they love to have dustbaths in. So today I put up some canes and string to mark off the area they’ll have, and mum and dad are going to come round next week to dig holes for the posts and help me put the fence up.

You can just about see the string line in these pics…the scaffold hammock frame is going to be dismantled and their house will go there, and they’ll have the whole end of the garden from under the trees to the veggie patch fence. The place where their house is now will then be empty, and it is the perfect place for the wooden swing seat mum and dad are getting rid of when they move…woooo…I love swing seats!


And speaking of veggies…they are going well! Dad found some spare wood in his garden so built me another bed, which I’ve put a few tomato plants in. Eventually i’ll plant half of it with asparagus, but my asparagus plants are only about 2″ high at the moment, so I’ll keep them indoors in pots for a while longer.


Everything else is going well…the wind made a gap in the fence a couple of weeks ago, and the chickens got in and destroyed all my beans, but i bought some more and fixed the fence, so it shouldn’t happen again. And I almost have foooood! This one should be ready in a couple of days, and the yellow ones on the other plant are starting to fatten up too.


Aaaand, here’s some more awesomeness from my garden. In this case, by ‘garden’ i mean ‘zoo’, and by ‘my’ i mean ‘Banham’. I don’t wanna fill this blog with tooo many pics, but there are a handful more on my flickr.


soooo wiiiiiiiiiiiide

new lens. love.

took a quick wander up the road to get a few shots to explore the wideness of the lens. I love it, there’s very little distortion of the edges at 20mm…a considerable amount more at 10mm, but I like how it looks, cept when i’m taking pics of myself and it makes my arms wider than my head. Still, love love. I just have to wait until i can go somewhere pretty to use it properly.


return of the lensbaby

So I’ve not really done much that’s bloggable lately. Actually, thinking about it, that is a complete lie, I did a talk on felting 2 days ago, but well,  a presentation that relied on pretty soft fuzzy things to admire and stroke, and needles to poke unsuspecting fibre with probably doesn’t translate that well to text. Suffice to say it went well, one lady is almost certainly going to become an addict, I sent her home with some needles and merino to practise with, and most of the others seemed to really enjoy it too.

I’ve spent much of this week in bed whining about my uterus, but the doctor gave me magic pills that seem to be working, so I’m just dealing with the usual tiredness and blah rather than feeling like there are weasels gnawing my internal organs. This was enough to make me decide last night that i needed to find my camera bag RIGHT NOW, cos i’ve just been shooting with the 35 for the last few months (when i’ve even bothered with the SLR at all)…and while that is still my favourite lens (and probably will be until I’ve saved enough pennies to buy the sigma 10-20…mmm wiiiiide), a little variety is nice, so after eventually finding the bag (not in the photo room OF COURSE, but in a ‘secret safe place’ in my wardrobe) last night and messing around for a bit, I decided i missed playing with the lensbaby.

So I had a play today, and realised I’d not used it for a while cos it’s a pain in the ass. With my limited skills i already need to take a hundred photos to get one decent one, with this i need to take a gazillion. If i had the one where you can fix the lens in place to fix the focus that would probably help a lot, but even so, trying to take photos of cats and chickens and things that move is not fun. stupid cats. I think imma try find something worth photoing and get the lights and tent set up so i’ve not got as many variables to worry about. I do love you lensbaby, you are just hard work.



wheel update

I worked on the wheel a little more today. Sanding the single coat of varnish on this was a lot easier than the gazillion layers on the last one, so I didn’t bother getting more paint stripper. I started painting the wheel as I’d planned, and decided to take some pics…and then I realised i very rarely share my WIPs unless they are yarn related….which is kinda stupid. I’m happy being all like ‘hey, see this dead jellyfish with needles poking out of it? well, in several months time, it will be a beautiful lace shawl!’, but when it comes to something i’m painting, i get all ‘noooo, not finished, no-one must seeee’. I do not know the reason why, but to buck this trend, here is the wheel as it currently looks. It needs more coats of paint and a different colour paint and generally just MORE, but its getting there.


I was initially considering taking the wheel itself apart and using brass rods instead of the spokes, and replacing the treadle with a brass plate (cos it’s plywood, so even with staining it’s not gonna match the rest of the wheel). Then i realised that would be an all-round Terrible Idea, as I am not good enough at precision work on the lathe to be able to get the spokes completly identical, and then attempting to take apart a glued together wheel and get it reassembled so it spins true and doesn’t wobble would probably result in disaster, and the desired end result is mostly to have something that actually spins, as well as looking pretty.

While taking the pics, i realised that newcat was sleeping on the sofa behind, so i got a sneaky shot of her too.


Also, I was going through some old pics today. The original thinking was to see if an old RAF base i photoed last year would be suitable for a knitting photoshoot, but I have long since forgotten which garment I was considering, or whether it was just a hypothetical future shoot when i’ve actually written up a pattern.

Sadly i couldn’t get as many photos as I wanted, as while we were there a man with a gun came and told us we were trespassing and should leave. I tried the whole ‘but i’m only taking photos, and it’s so prettttty’. He informed me i might get hurt, and didn’t seem to be interested that i didnt care or wouldn’t sue him or anything.

Oh, on rereading that it sounds like we were on a working base…what actually happened is that we went on a weekend, when this long-disused area becomes an airsofter’s paradise, so about an hour into our visit lots of teenage boys in combats appeared running around shooting each other with bb’s.  It wasn’t like I was arguing with someone with a real gun or anything! So next time i return it will be during the week, when hopefully no-one else will be around, cos this place was pretttty, and full of super super cool stuff.






eek, no time to proof read, i am late for an appointment killing bad guys on the internetz. if it makes no sense, just guess what i was trying to say, maybe you’ll come up with something much wittier than i managed

procrastination over. kinda.

This morning i realised just how many WIPs I had..mostly fibre related, but a few in other media too. I decided to catalogue them and take pics and post here and try to shame myself into actually getting on with something rather than starting something else. Well, somehow in the time between having this thought in my bedroom, and getting dressed and making it downstairs, I remembered another WIP (which is a very generous title, seeing as I’ve not actually done any W on it at all). So screw cataloguing, it was time to make a mess!

I found this wheel, with lazy kate, 3 bobbins, a niddy noddy (that was so awful I forgot to put it in the picture), and an ‘assortment of spinning books’ at an auction a few months ago. The final price including fees and VAT and whatever was around £40, which was pretty good.


It was covered in dust, had some wool that had been (badly) spun in the grease on the bobbins, and smelled of mothballs, old lanolin, and despair. Oh, and the leather footman/treadle connector was broken. I thought it was an old Ashford Traditional, but on closer inspection (i.e. reading the label) I noticed it was branded ‘Kit Kraft’, so that means it’s oooold.

Oh, and here’s the ‘assortment of spinning books’ that came with it. I guess 2 out of 5 isn’t bad, though how the cheesemaking one got in there I’m not sure.


The reason i was procrastinating was because I was unsure whether to just clean it up and replace the bit of leather, or whether to strip it down completely and restain and paint and oil and all sort of other things. So of course on this day of ending procrastination and getting stuff done I decided to go with the method that would take weeks rather than hours.

As I was unscrewing it, Gren came into the room to talk to me about WoW, and, having got to a rather stiff screw, I shoved the bit at him saying ‘uuuuh’, which I think is the internationally recognised noise for ‘You’re talking and i don’t want to interrupt, but I’m a weak girl and you’re a big strong man, please remove this screw/bottletop/jar lid for me using your awesome powers’. Then he seemed vaguely interested in the whole thing and undid a few more screws until it was time to get the wheel off.

Then the whole thing turned into an old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly scenario. The axle goes through the wheel, then there is a hole through both in which a long metal pin sits to keep it in place. You need to get a long rod into the hole and hit it with a hammer until the pin slides out. On the newer model traddies this hole is at one edge of the wheel so you can use the hammer without the spokes and wheel rim getting in the way. On this wheel it was right in the centre, so getting something in and hammering was hard enough as it was.  Then I couldn’t even find anything suitable in my tool drawer, and so came back with a strange selection of ‘might do the job’ bits. He tried a long thin rat-tail file. And hammered. A lot. Nothing went anywhere, and then he realised the file was stuck in the metal rod and wouldn’t come out.

Nothing else i’d found was up to the task, so I went out to the garage/workshop and hunted there for more suitable items. I came back with a little jewellers screwdriver and a few nails. At this point Gren showed me that while trying to remove the file he’d broken it off inside the wheel. The shaft of the screwdriver I’d found fitted right inside the metal pin, and the edge of the handle part was the same size as the hole in the wood, so in theory we could put this into the pin from the non-file end and use the screwdriver to push out the pin AND the file.

A couple of minutes of hammering later, and he realised the screwdriver wouldn’t come out. So there was a hole with a pin in the middle, a broken bit of a file sticking out one end, and a screwdriver sticking out the other. At this point he gave up and went to put the kettle on, and I had to take over. I tried some more hitting with a hammer and pulling at the file (that was at least now protuding a bit) with pliers. I was about to hit the file end to try and get the screwdriver out, when Gren came back and said ‘if you hit that it’ll just get more wedged in the pin and make it even worse’. He may have had a point, though it was fast getting hard to see how things could get worse unless fire or velociraptors or crocodiles were involved. He suggested I cut off the protruding bit of file, but having no saw or dremel to hand and not wanting to get up AGAIN, I decided i was going to use the sharp cutty bit on the pliers to dent it enough that I could hit it with a hammer and it would break off (i like hitting things with hammers, ok?). As it was, this plan was awesome, as using that part of the pliers on the rough surface of the file got much better grip than expected, and i pulled the broken bit out.

So, now onto the screwdriver. I hit the pin back the other way until the screwdriver loosened, and then pulled it out. Ok, so we were back where we started, except the pin was actually protruding about an inch from the hub  of the wheel. I got one of the nails I’d found in the garage, put it into the hole and did a little more hitting.

Almost all of the pin was finally visible on the other side!! Oh, yeah, but the nail was stuck, and not long enough to fully push the pin out. I grabbed the pliers and started pulling and twisting. At some point during this part of the process a cup of tea had appeared next to me and Gren had appeared on the sofa opposite me, and he was making grabbing motions, which i think is the internationally recognised hand gesture for ‘you’re a weak girl and I’m a big strong man, it is painful to watch you struggling there using your pathetic muscles, so just let me do it already’. I handed it over and drank my tea, and after a little while of pulling and tugging with the pliers, the pin AND the nail were free.


The rest of the process was even less interesting, so I will spare the details. I will say that last time I used paint stripper i realised it ate through nitrile gloves. This time i double bagged for safety and realised that the vapours can travel through latex gloves AND washing up gloves and still make your hands burn. Seriously, wtf sort of gloves are you meant to wear with this crap? Then i ran out of paint stripper before all the varnish was gone, but decided to go ahead with staining anyway, figuring it would make it easier to see where the remaining varnish was and i could sand it later. or buy more paint stripper. Actually on most areas the odd bits of remaning varnish just made it look cool and old and stuff, but on the wheel itself it looks crap, so i will have to work on that tomorrow. Or next month. or year.

Anyway, here’s how it looks now. If you can imagine this picture was taken in decent light and wasn’t blurry. Or maybe just take my word for it. It’s brown now.


Oh, and if you’ve managed to read all this way, here is your reward. We went on a boat on the broads a while back, and i squeeed a lot as everything had been making babies and they were SO CUTE.



today in pictures, some more

newcat has returned home, but refuses to sit anywhere where it is possible to get a photo of her, so here are some more i took.

The quilt I am working on is going slowly but steadily. It would be a lot faster if cats weren’t insinctively drawn to fabic laid out flat. It makes cutting hard work.

I finished this yarn today, BFL i got in a swap, i think dyed by limegreenjelly. I spun it as heavy laceweight singles, as uneven as i could get it without huge slubs and skinny bits. hopefully it’ll make a pretty shawl with nice texture. 105g, 680 yards.

I tried a self portrait, but it seems its just too bright for me not to be squinty

my peas are actually looking like peas!


I have a new cat. 2 years ago I found out that Nik’s sister’s cat was pregnant, and I immediately started begging….’if it has a grey one, can i have it pleease’. After the babies were born, there was indeed a grey one, but she decided to keep her. So i got mummycat, and mummycat had babycat, and my grey cat quota was filled. Then a month ago, she had to move into a new house, and cats weren’t allowed, so Nik begged and whined until i agreed that notsobabyanymoregreycat could come and live with me. Okay, so it didn’t take too much whining and begging, because I do have a soft spot for grey cats.

She is perhaps more annoying than most.

She arrived, we had her for about 5 days, and she was settling in well, so we decided to let her explore outdoors. We didnt feed her that morning so she’d be easy to tempt back with food. She hung around the garden with us for about half an hour, then climbed onto the fence, onto the extension on the back of the garage, onto a porch roof….then into next-door’s upstairs window. We called her but she wouldn’t come out, and 5 minutes later she gets booted out their front door. Then she wouldn’t come in. We chased her for about an hour before giving up and figuring she’d come home when she was hungry.

We were wrong.

We put up posters and ‘missing cat’ notes through everyone’s doors, and talked to lots of random people around the area, and no-one had seen her. One lady came round and said ‘there’s a grey cat in my garden who i’ve not seen before’, so we went running over, only to find mummycat sitting smugly on her fence. 2 weeks passed, and we were thinking she must have found somewhere else who’d feed her and liked them better than my house of cats and chickens. Then one morning Gren came into my room saying when he opened his curtains in the morning he was pretty sure he’d seen her walk past the end of the drive, but he had just woken up and his vision was a bit blurry. Later that evening she reappeared in the back garden and wouldn’t come in, but eventually she came round the front and i lured her with tuna. She was a bit skinny and her belly was totally empty, but not at all dirty, and not dehydrated at all. My cats get filthy when they are shut in a garage just for a few hours, so we are thinking she was locked in an empty house, and had access to water but no food.

When she first came back she just would not stop mewing and was really attention starved, she’d just walk around us crying…she even mewed herself to sleep, but now she seems to be calming down a bit, though she does have a strange obsession with sitting in the sink and drinking from a dripping tap. We kept her in for another week before trying to let her out again, and she’s not disappeared again yet.

Aaaaanyway, the point of all that rambling was, I went into the garden to try and get some nice photos of her, and took the real proper camera and everything (I’ve been rather lazy lately and using the point and shoot too much). She was nowhere to be seen, so i took a few other pics, and then found a few more on the memory card. So, for now at least, newcat will not feature on this blog, hopefully when she returns the sun will be less bright and I’ll actually be able to get some decent pics.


yes, my veggies are growing! potatoes, peas, carrots, lettuce, strawberries and raspberries. There are courgettes and purple sprouting broccoli in another bed, and some herbs, tomatoes, and chillis elsewhere too. This year I’ve actually managed to mostly remember to water stuff, and the only casualties have been cat or chicken related.


the climbing rose was very harshly cut back at the start of the season, but that seems to have just made it even happier

chickens with trousers are the best

Cookie, my cuckoo orpington. She is so friendly and doesn’t mind if you stroke her. I love her.

waking up to this every morning is awesome

sometimes i go into the living room in the morning and find lots of things on the floor. this is why.

mummycat teaches babycat how to watch the snake

When you need to test your lights and don’t have a model, a plastic clothes model in a zentai suit and a schoolgirl top is always a good substitute, though you need some rope to make sure you can hang it at torso height

my passap. i love it. i should use it more

I am going to venture outside for more photos, I am even considering taking the lensbaby, but i fear that i will want to take pics of the animals, and fiddly manual focusing on a moving object is not my idea of fun.


So today I had a bath. I was going to shave my legs, but it was late, and I was tired, so I didnt bother. The reason I am sharing this will soon become apparent. I have been asked to do a little craft stall selling my knitted stuff at a school fete this weekend, I’m not expecting to sell much, I’m just doing it to help out the organiser really. Anyway, I decided I should wash some of my socks and my favourite jumper to take along as samples of stuff I can do on commission if desired, so I chucked them into the bath after I’d finished to soak for a bit, then completed washing and hung the socks out to dry.

 The jumper I laid out on the floor in the spare room. I made it around 6 months ago and it’s had a lot of wear, and it’s made from kureyon, which as a singles yarn, pills like crazy. So even clean, it wasn’t looking its best. Then I remembered reading somewhere that if you don’t have one of those snazzy jumper shaver bobble removers, a simple disposable razor will do. Fast forward to 5 minutes later, and I’m on my hands and knees on the floor in the spare room, shaving my damn jumper. At one point I looked down and noticed my stubbly legs. The irony wasn’t lost on me.


 Look at that huge pile of fluff that came off it! The knitting geeks amongst you may notice this looks a lot like Lizard Ridge. I knitted an awesome blanket from that pattern (though I made it bigger), which was completed sometime in the winter of 2007. I loved knitting it, it was so relaxing, and so beautiful. For Christmas I was given a pack of Kureyon, and I decided I wanted to make a jumper based on the Lizard Ridge wavy stitch pattern. So I did.

I’m bored of typing now, so I’ll pad this out with some pics. Firstly, some spinning ones. I’m taking part in the Tour de Fleece, which is a spin-along type thing where you have to spin every day the tour rides. Today was day 4, and here is my progress so far; 375m/100g of purple merino sock yarn that I dyed myself, and one bobbin’s worth of a single that will become yet more sock yarn.


Finally, here’s a pic of some sock yarn I dyed the other day for the stall. I’m not entirely sure whether many sock knitters attend school fetes, but if no-one buys it, I get to keep it for myself, which is fine with me, as I LOVE the purple one. mmmmmm.

Ready, steady, awwwwww



(clicky pics that’ll take you to my flickr where you can see even more kitteny goodness)

This is the latest addition to my household. She is called karma. Karma Kittenface McPurry. The reason being, I am part of an awesome swap group on ravelry called UKarma. The idea is, if there’s yarn you don’t want anymore, you offer it up for someone else to claim. Then in return they offer something else, and the cycle continues. Rather than a straight swap of items of similar value, this relies on people being honest and offering stuff up purely for karma, knowing that in future they will claim something else they want.

Anyway, I had to go to the post office to send off a couple of parcels to people in this group, and I noticed on the noticeboard outside there was a small sign saying ‘kittens for sale’. with a picture. and one of them was grey. Now I have wanted, no NEEDED, a grey kitten for EVER. So on seeing this sign I ran home (well, as close as i get to running) and immediately called…the kittens were still available!!! So I got in the car and went to see them, and the grey one was as cute as expected, so I brought her home with me, and she is now in my spare room being a cute little rascal. Apparently the sign had only gone up 10 mins before I got there.

On reporting back to the UKarma group that they were personally responsible for my latest acquisition, someone suggested I call her ‘karma’. So karma she is. And I love her lots.

Collets + a toy wheel = happiness


First, let me begin with a photo of my wheel. It’s a Haldane Lewis, and I love it dearly.


Unfortunately, as my spinning is improving, I’m learning more about the limitations of my wheel. The first is an obvious one; Haldane wheels are no longer made, so getting spares is hard. Spare bobbins cost £15. While I would love more than 3 bobbins, I don’t want to spend that much money on them, so I will just have to make do. The next problem I encountered was the ratios. The two whorls give 6:1 and 8:1, which was fine when i was starting out, but now I’m spinning more laceweight yarn, it’s really hugely annoying. I’ve been looking out for other wheels on ebay, thinking I could maybe get an old ashford and buy the lace flyer kit, or a random old wheel I could take apart and make smaller whorls for. Sadly spinning seems hugely popular, and wheels on ebay go for silly amounts. I then thought I could perhaps glue a chamfered-edged disc onto the back of the whorl i have, but i really didn’t want to ruin the wheel, as its just so beautiful. Its a shame though, as there’s plenty of space there on the flyer shaft, as you can see here (as well as a sneak peak at the baby alpaca/tussah silk I am spinning up at the moment.


I though about trying to make my own replacement smaller whorl, but realised my metalworking skills were sadly lacking, there was no way i’d be able to make something that fitted onto a reverse threaded shaft. Then, one day, while looking at my meccano swift, I realised that mecanno has perfect wheels for this, they have a collet attached so they can be tightened onto the axels, and they have a groove in the outside for a driveband. I checked, but the collet was wayyyy too small, designed to fit on an axel of around 3.5mm, and it wasn’t big enough to bore out to fit my flyer shaft. Still, i realised that the idea was sound, I just needed to find the right sized collet.

Yesterday, I was in the model shop in the city, looking for something they didn’t have, when I thought i’d go look for collets…and I found some. I was fairly sure the ones I found were too small, I asked the guy who worked there, and he said it was the biggest size the supplier made, so I bought some on the offchance that they would fit (I stupidly hadn’t bothered to measure the shaft at any point). What I didn’t realise was that the part of the shaft I see most, where the bobbin goes, is actually wider than the part behind the whorl’s screw fitting. So the collets I bought fitted!!! I grabbed an old toy wheel, bored a groove in the edge of it, and glued the collet to it….an instant new whorl! I used a countersink bit to widen the hole at the non-collet edge, as the thread stuck out a little beyond the whorl and I wanted it to sit flush…as it is, I need to widen it a little more. I also thought the groove might be too small, and on testing realised I was right, but it didnt matter as the drive band wants to sit in the groove between the edge of the wheel and the back of the whorl anyway. So now I have a snazzy new whorl that gives me a ratio of about 11:1. It cost me less than £2 to make, and i have 3 collets left to make others!


Okay, so it’s not as pretty as the rest of the wheel. I do plan to make another stained a similar colour, and varnish it before sticking the collet on, so I don’t have to get the wood saturated with superglue. With a few minor design adjustments, I can see myself being very happy indeed with this new addition!*


*or at least, very happy until I lose the allen key that tightens it up, then I will be cursing myself and my bright ideas when I can’t get the bobbin off.