New Year’s Resolution

Firstly “A Happy New Year to all my followers old and new!”

Now I don’t normally make New Year resolutions because if I decide that there is something in my life that needs to be changed and which needs some sort of resolution to back it up, I make it straightaway whatever time of year it is.

However this time the resolution occurs exactly at New Year time.

The resolution is to generally post on my blog only once a week.

There have only been two occasions in the past when I have felt obliged to write a post twice a week and that was when I was taking part in the CAL which resulted in this blanket CAL blanket on the bedand this last year taking part in the Photo Challenge. 0424-Photo ChallengeNow I don’t regret either of these things as they were great fun and were a chance to interact with other people but they have created a great sense of pressure and I would like to be more relaxed and have time for doing frivolous things like playing video games.

My 3DS has been rather neglected this last year but I have bought two new games for it 0543-two-gamesand hope to buy ‘Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World’ after it comes out for the 3DS.

This a photo of the game for the WiiU. 0543-yoshi-game-for-wiiu(I’m sure Nintendo won’t mind me copying their photograph and advertising it!)

I expect you can see why it appeals!

So don’t be surprised to see less posts. They will continue to be about the same sort of things as in the past.


Happy Christmas

Wishing you all the blessings of Christmas. 0540-christmas-blessingsAnd an especial thank you for all your comments and interest over this past year.

Never-Ending Card

Having see the idea of a never-ending card on Wild Daffodils’ blog – HERE I had thought that I would like to try it.

Recently I needed a card for a Crafty Coffee friend’s birthday. She makes beautiful things out of many pieces of origami paper so I thought that she would appreciate that sort of card. (This appears to be called modular origami and the constructs referred to as Sonobe Polyhedra.)

I didn’t have much time but I managed to find some stickers in a shop when on the way to the cinema and thought my highlighter and silver pens could be useful. I made a demo model in paper to start with and scribbled on it as I developed my ideas. 0532-ready-to-decorate-cardThe final card was made with pieces of cut down postcard 3×6 inches as I had plain postcard sized pieces and it meant all the pieces could be the same shape.

Here is the first side 0532-page-1which opens up to show 0532-page-2Then lifting top and bottom gives 0532-page-3which in turn opens to. 0532-page-4If you peep through the gap in this side I think you can see the first side showing and if you open the card up top and bottom you are back at the beginning, all ready to start again.

I may have gone a bit overboard with the hearts but apart from the stars, which were an afterthought, they were all I could buy at the time.

I tried to make the card work both ways up as you can see.

The fact that the third one was in the shape of a cross gave me some ideas for Easter cards. So look out here come next Lent.


Photo Challenge – Socks

With a topic like socks (don’t think it was I who chose that one) what could I do but take a photograph of all the socks I have made. photo-challenge1646-socksSeven knitted pairs and one crocheted. The rainbowy pair at the top were the first that I made, in merino wool, and you can see they have got a bit bobbly but are still oh so comfy! The grey pair are my summer ones in cotton with a bit of lycra for stretch. The red, orange, green, blue ones (two pairs) have bamboo viscose as the synthetic component and are quite lightweight. The pair on the right I managed to make matching as with the green and red pair. The bluey grey ones were made from wool I was sent as a giveaway, the browny ones are my crochet socks and the blue, green, purple ones the only ones where I knitted in holes.

I do still have a few balls of sock wool (some given to me) and would love to make another pair but all the socks above are wearing really well and so I don’t feel I need any more at present.

Photo taken in my bedroom on an only moderately bright morning – 400 ISO, 3.5 aperture and 1/5 sec, hand held so I was pretty pleased with how it came out!!

This year’s Christmas cards

I always like to make at least some of my Christmas cards and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do this year until I was given this book. 0527-bookthat someone didn’t want.

In it I found the perfect chart which I copied out in colour onto squared paper 0527-chartso my old eyes didn’t have to struggle!

I looked out my box of embroidery threads 0527-embroidery-threadsand chose some colours. 0527-chosen-coloursI also found a chart for a candle that was quicker to work.0527-two-designsI worked blanket stitch round one of the angels and got out some duck tape and cut a piece of card. 0527-angel-tape-and-cardI used the tape to fix the card on the back but then I decided that it would look just as good if not better (and quicker) if I used the tape for the edging. I had also been given some tiny cards that I could use for the candle. 0527-cardsOf course the angel card was not complete and so I found some stickers Lettering sheetsI had used in a previous year and made up an A5 card. 0527-finished-angel-cardJust seven angels and five candles but as I have time I may make some more.

(The angel is held on with just a bit of blu tack so it can be removed and hung up as a decoration.)

Garden Supplement

My 500th Post!

Not having any knitting or crochet to share with you, though there will be something next week, I thought I would show you a few finishing touches I have added to my garden.

Remember this?0473-Ivy and honeysuckleWell I spent a long time thinking about the best way to protect myself from the need to be forever cutting back the honeysuckle and ivy as it forced it’s way through into my garden.

Now it isn’t as bad as it used to be after I did a mega ‘reclaim my space’ exercise.  0473-Ivy and honeysuckle cut backAnd in fact it is even more tamed now as some of the ivy you can see died as it was dependent on ivy that started my side of the fence. And I think some of that ivy was supporting the honeysuckle.

I gave hours of thought as to what I should do and as far as the ivy was concerned even thought of buying some perspex sheet for the far side of the trellis in that corner but in the end settled for garden quality plastic sheet. 0500-Ivy proofingAlthough having the sheet on this side of the fence as well is a little unsightly, it does ensure that the ivy can’t creep under the trellis panel!

I installed the plastic on Saturday and then on Sunday I moved on to some rush screening that you can just see in the above picture.

I removed the trellis panel and attached what was in fact half a 2m x 4m piece of rush screening to the fence post, wall and a plastic pole that you can’t see. 0500-Rush screening upI don’t know if you can see the ties in this photogaph but I went to the garden centre for the pole and some brown string but found something new: a sort of brown plastic tube. Hopefully this is better as I have found that garden string decays after a season or two.0500-TieI used this to attach the trellis in several places where there were cable ties in the wall as well as the posts. Of course I cut the ends down before I replaced the trellis. 0500-Rush barrier finishedAgain I had had several ideas of what to do here but although it may not prove a total barrier, I am pleased with my choice as it looks very natural.

And it does not cut down the light too much as you can see from this shadow. 0500-ShadowAnd then on Monday I gave the render three coats of masonry paint. Phew! glad that is over.

Garden update with new paving now laid!

Maybe you remember me showing you the two choices of paving and asking you which you preferred. Well I chose the one on the right, most especially because I loved the soft dimpled feel of it and indeed it is lovely to walk on with bare feet.Choice of pavingBut it is beautiful too as you shall see. (Paving is Marshalls’ Fairstone Flamed Narias – more info HERE.)

Here is how the garden looked just before the workmen arrived. I had cleared out all loose items that I wanted to keep. Before work started left side Before work started right sideThe start date had been pencilled in as the beginning of July but in the end they came on the 22nd: a Friday.

The first thing to be done was to remove the paving slabs from the upper area and sort out the new trellis.End of First day (Friday) left side End of First day (Friday) right sideThey did have a problem with the skip being late in arriving which slowed them down a bit.

I was quite glad in the end that they started on a Friday because that gave me the weekend to coat the trellis and posts to match the fence. (Three coats – 24hrs (well almost) apart.)

On the Monday they removed the paving from the lower level and started laying hard core where the paving was going to be. They also finished off the top of the wall supporting the higher level.End of Second day (Monday) left side End of Second day (Monday) right sideThey did have another problem today because although the paving wasn’t needed yet it should have arrived and it didn’t!

Nothing much changed on Tuesday except that the drainage channel was added. End ofThird day (Tuesday) Drainage End of Third day (Tuesday) More drainageThe drainage was originally planned to be along the wall between the upper and lower levels but there were wall foundations that got in the way. However the one strip of drainage along the side of the house was very neat.

Wednesday. Scott had come originally with two helpers: his assistant and a trainee but on Wednesday he only had the trainee, as Sean, his assistant, unfortunately had food poisoning.

The most exciting thing happened that day: the paving arrived. Of course this is only a small part of it.End of Fourth day (Wednesday) Paving has arrivedAs you can see the weather was beginning to change and there was some rain.

The next day Scott was on his own, his assitant was not yet recovered and Scott thought he would get on faster without the trainee as he was beginning to lay the paving.End of Fifth day (Thursday) left side End of Fifth day (Thursday) right side This took longer than it might have done as Scott was having to mix the mortar as well as doing the laying.

Sean was back on Friday and so the paving laying was finished – almost.End of Sixth day (Friday) left side End of Sixth day (Friday) right sidePhotographs taken from above that day not to step on the paving.

Scott pointed out that the fence was at an angle which created a problem. End of Sixth day (Friday) problem cornerSo we decided to fill in the last few inches with slate. (My choice – Scot would have preferred gravel!) I looked at the architect plans of the site and yes that side of the garden is longer than the other. The people the other side have their garden a bit higher than mine too.

Scott had said at one point that he would come in Saturday morning but in the end he decided not to which I was quite pleased about as I find having workmen around and not having my normal routine and never able to really relax or start anything which needs proper concentration all a bit of a strain.

However on Monday Scott regretted his decision not to come in on Saturday because it was really wet. The worst day of all for rain and the main thing to complete that day was rendering the wall. End of Seventh day (Monday) left side End of Seventh day (Monday) right sideDo you see how water changes the colour of the paving?

Just a few things to finish off, like the mortar, so on Tuesday Scott came back with his young son (who was on holiday of course). End of Eighth day (Tuesday) left side End of Eighth day (Tuesday) right side Still a bit wet as you can see, though part of that was for the mortar.

I hardly dared walk on the paving for the next couple of days as I didn’t want to risk upsetting the mortar but on Friday evening I started rubbing the lose mortar off the slabs and continued on Saturday and Sunday moved on to tidying up the flower beds.

I don’t know if you can see very well in this photograph but the top half shows the flower bed on the left before I lowered it and the bottom half how it looks now. Difficult flower bedThe flower bed had long been an inch or so above the level of the paving as the original soil had been so poor that I had piled compost from my composters on it year after year until things started to flourish.

The original paving had been very uneven but had generally sloped back to front and left to right. Now the paving had been made level, left to right, not to have a puddle on the right and so the flower bed grew by several inches and had to be lowered. You’d be surprised what I dug out under the soil, no wonder things struggled.

While I was about it, I rearranged the planting. A space on the right for the two clematis I plan to grow, the pulmonaria moved to the left and a space left next to them for some hellebore. I am hoping that my snowdrops that were relocated to the left had corner will survive.

And here are some  photographs of the final garden taken without rain or bright sunshine which I hope give a feel of the general look. As before, one photograph taken looking left and one looking right. Final garden left side Final garden right sideAnd do you remember this with the clothes line up. The bed for the apple tree behind being newly created.Old rotary clothes lineWell now the clothes line has been relocated. Final garden rotary clothes dryerSo I will see the apple tree and not the washing when I sit on my settee.

And just to finish off a closer look at the paving.

The range of colour of the paving is from grey to red with lots of gold in the middle. Paving slabs contrastHere are some of my favourite patterned slabs. Paving slab 1Paving slabs 2 Paving slab 3Paving slab 4And a last view from above. 478-12 Final garden view from aboveBut you must imagine the colours even a little bit more intense. Lowering my view of the screen does it for me!

Garden update – part two

When I mention recoating the fence with preservative I said there would be an update.

Before I coated the fence I decided to lift a few slabs and create a bed where the apple tree will be as I thought that would mean I could make sure there was enough soil and would mark it’s approximate location for when the new slabs are laid. (Unfortunately my new wind spinner lost a couple of vanes and I never found the red one! 😦 )New bedYou can also see what happens when you don’t bother to coat a fence with preservative. The fence in the next garden has not been up as long as mine!

I used the slabs to make a fairly solid place to reach the plants that are overhanging my garden. Slabs for step ladderUnfortunately it wasn’t big enough for the step ladder but I could use a chair safely.

Here is what I had to cut back. The ivy has been the bane of my life since I moved there and the honeysuckle strangled my clematis and made my climbing rose shoot up to the sky. (I could cut the ivy standing on the ground fourteen years ago.)Ivy and honeysuckleHere is how it looks now. Ivy and honeysuckle cut backI am going to find a way to ivy-proof the trellis before I put it back.

This was taken after I had coated the fence and trellis.

Although I felt bad about using the less environmentally friendly coating, I do think that I prefer the colour though it is maybe a little darker.

You can see here the original colour at the top though a little weathered. It was even more orange looking when newly applied.Comparison of fence colour The new coating is a browner brown. It seemed a bit dark to start with but after three coats the colour developed into something acceptable. I didn’t want it too dark as darker colours bring objects forward while lighter colours make them recede and the garden is small enough.

Of course it is not perfect. Here is how the less weathered piece I showed you before looks now. Deja vuWhere there was green staining the fence went black and there are runs from the previous coating showing through in places. DripsAll that painting on of coating really aggravated the pains in my wrists but luckily my wrists are a lot better now and it was worth doing. Hence a garden update rather than craft! though I have been doing some.

An update on the table…

Remember this?Table treatedWell I finally decided that I had to try in out in the garden permanently as I couldn’t keep bringing it out and taking it back in but as I feared the renewed finish didn’t manage to survive. Table nowBetter than it was but not a lasting solution.

Just a couple more things to share.

When I ripped up all the plants I was getting rid of I also ripped up the pulmonaria which was in the wrong place but later realised that I should have just transplanted it. However I did find a few seedlings around the place so have planted them where I want the pulmonaria. Here is one of them. PulmonariaSo maybe  I can save myself some money!

I don’t normally pick flowers from the garden because they last so much longer in situ but I have decided to pick a few of the lily of the valley to bring indoors for the scent and I added a few longer pieces of forget-me-not. Flowers in vaseYou can see that flower arranging is not really something I am good at!

A Cautionary Tale

I have just finished coating my fence and trellis – three coats.

Am I pleased with the result? Fairly. More in a later garden update.

Am I happy with the product and my recent experience in buying it? No.

Twelve years ago (didn’t realise it was so long till I looked up my financial records) I had a new fence put up and coated the posts and both sides of the fence and trellis before erection to maximum it’s life. Since then they have always been covered by a variety of climbers so no chance to recoat.

Being about to have an expensive lot of paving laid it seemed an ideal time to recoat the fence both in terms of colour and preservation. Especially as I have removed all the climbers and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting the coating on the current paving as it won’t be there much longer!

A quick look in the garage amid my myriad paint tins did not reveal the remains of what I had coated the fence with previously, however I knew it was something that imparted both colour and preservation and suspected that I had bought it from Ronseal. Because there seemed to be so many different products on the market and the ones I looked at all seemed to assume you were applying them to bare wood, I felt very confused and sent an email to Ronseal to ask for advice. I said that I couldn’t remember what I had used but that it both coloured and preserved the fence and now I wished to renew the coating and what would they advise me to use. Ronseal replied “It may be the Double Action Wood Preserver that you used previously.  As it has been a few years now, the Shed & Fence Preserver could be applied over.  This can be obtained from B&Q.”

I think the first time I looked my local B&Q had some but when I wanted to buy it they were out of stock; so I looked to find it on-line and discovered I could buy it from Wood Finishes Direct and that even with delivery it would be cheaper or not much more expensive.

I then looked at what they had to say about coverage and how many coats were needed.

First Cautionary event

The information given suggested that at most two coats would be needed and it was only because I thought that one tin would be a bit borderline for two coats that I bought two (just in case).

When I received the tins, which came the next day just as I had asked for, I read the back and saw that for full colour and protection three coats were necessary. So I was glad I had opted for the two tins.

Second Cautionary item

It was necessary to leave twenty-four hours between coats so our recent dry spell was an ideal time to set to work.

My previous coating although on the thin side had been like single cream, this was like water! and it had a very strong smell that I blamed for giving me a headache. It was darker that the previous coating though I thought I had chosen the closest colour but with three coats it was at its lightest, so worth doing. (Reading reviews I discovered that the 2016 formulation had been revised and was a darker colour than before. Not that this necessarily had the same colour range as what I had used twelve years ago.)

It was not a product that I enjoyed using; the only plus point, I suppose, being that as it was so thin you didn’t get runs as it would appear I had had with the earlier coating.

Now why is this cautionary you may ask? Well not for the consistency or the headache inducing smell, though I can’t say they spoke in its favour, but because of what I realised when, quite by chance, I found a tin of the original coating when I had finally finished.

Now my first thought all those years ago had been to use creosote as that was what I had been brought up to think was what you used on fences. But then I read that it was not good for the environment. It was all to do with VOCs and the original product I had bought had been Ronseal’s ‘Double Action Wood Preserver’ (as they had suggested!) which had a nice little label on the back saying that it had a “Low VOC” content.

I had forgotten all about VOCs but had assumed what I had just used was simply the current equivalent to what I had used then.

How wrong can you be!!!!

When I looked on the back of the new tins there was a label saying that it had a “Very High VOC” content. Having spent a long time looking on the internet it appears that Ronseal do make a more environmentally friendly one called “5 Year Weather Defence Fence Life”. This like the earlier coating only needs two coats and can be recoated after a couple of hours! Why didn’t they mention that one? Would it not have worked? I don’t know.

Oh well. You live and learn. Maybe do more research next time and ask more questions.

Garden update – part one

I now have received all the quotations, accepted one and know that the work should take place in July.

Since this is an expensive project, I decided that it made sense to buy a good quality surface that would look attractive and last well. I couldn’t get to see the paving on my short-list locally but Marshall’s sent me some samples. 0468-Stone samplesI think they must have run out of their standard samples of the paving on the left, as I was told you get two small samples of each. The slab on the left is a standard 275mm square slab.

Here they are so you can see the colour and texture more clearly.

Sawn Versuro (This is more enlarged than the Narias)0468-Versuro textureand Flamed Narias 0468-Flamed Narias textureI wonder which you would have chosen?

In the meantime I have a few things to do to prepare.

This is what it looked like recently.

To the left 0468-Left side of gardenand to the right. 0468-Right side of gardenYes I know it is a tiny garden. Not a ‘garden’ at all according to my middle child just a ‘patio’!

I decided that this would be an ideal time to recoat the fence with a colour preservative but first I needed to clean it as it has gone a bit green in places. especially in the corner where I had a sort of arbour.

This shows where I did an experimental clean on a couple of strips so you can see before and after. 0468-Fence cleaningHaving see on the internet that it might be possible to rehabilitate my plastic furniture I had a go with the table.

Before0468-table before treatmentand after. 0468-table treatedI have put the table in the garage for now so I don’t know if it will last when exposed to the elements.

I will have a go with the chairs eventually but they will need more scrubbing and I am saving my wrists for coating the fence.

I have more to share but I think that is enough for now and will write another post when I have done up the fence. Just waiting for a few reliably dry days in a row!