Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Done, finished, complete!

Yes, it can only be the bathroom!

While we knew we were going to be squeezing a lot of this work in around the rest of life, I don't think either of us predicted it would take three and a half months! To be fair, most of the last month has been dealing with the things that didn't work first time. Finally though, we can say that it is finished. Finito. Done. Hooray!

First up though, a reminder of the "before" photos:


And now it looks like this:

Worktop with countertop sink and plenty of storage

Draining board for lots of bottles

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How Not To Design A Knitting Pattern

Over Christmas I started knitting something new. Not just a new project. Not just a new yarn. I started to make up a new pattern. Obviously (I say obviously - turns out this was only obvious to me in hindsight) this hasn't been as straight forward as just knitting from someone else's pattern; I'm trying to design some gloves, and am pretty sure I've gone about it all the wrong way. There are plenty of guides out there on how to write a knitting pattern, but from my limited experience I give you:

How NOT To Design A Knitting Pattern

1. Guess

If you're trying not to design a knitting pattern then guessing is a great way forward. Need to know how many extra stitches to add as you work the base of your thumb, and how many rows you need to increase those stitches over? Don't take any measurements and definitely don't work out your gauge. Guess! That way you can have the joy of knitting your thumb many times over.

2. Be Indecisive

You may have a rough idea in your mind how this might look and that's plenty to get you started. By no means should you swatch variations on your pattern to see how it affects the look before you start knitting properly. When wondering whether the pattern would look best over 30 stitches or 40 its best to not decide until you're part way through making the finished article, and then to go for 35 instead.

3. Design purely for you

Because if it fits you, of course it will fit everyone else. No thought at all is needed on how to produce different sizes or shapes to suit different people.

4. Just Start Knitting

There's nothing more conducive to getting the design right than thoughts of "I've just come up with a new way to do this, but that would mean undoing what I've done". Having a half finished project on your lap will always inspire you to stick with what you've got rather than making the right decision - perfect for the non-designer.

5. Don't knit at all

Finally, ignore your new pattern design. Don't think about it for months at a time. That way the fairies will come and design it for you. Guaranteed. Knit a jumper instead.

P.s. Yes, I've done all these things. Yes, it could be a while before this is an actual pattern. I now have a glove that might one day have a matching pair, was reworked many times in getting this far and is wonderfully soft and warm. It might also one day resemble the final pattern. I'm now going to take some measurements, knit some swatches and remember that I have an engineering degree - logic should be my forte, not an afterthought (I blame Christmas)! Shame it's no longer really glove weather, maybe I'll just knit something else... just for a little while of course...
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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Weeds or um, harvest?

I was really hoping that this would be a finished bathroom post, but a kerfuffle with the flooring means its still not quite finished - though a lot closer than last weekend. Instead we've been getting on with other things, including returning our conservatory to a dining room rather than a workshop - removing large quantities of dust as we went. Happy days!

Joe recently inherited some demijohn's from a friend who no longer had use for them and has been contemplating thoughts of homebrew ever since.  When he came home from work one day recently to find me tackling the stinging nettles that were threatening to take over part of our veggie patch it all seemed simple... nettle wine!

So he popped the nettles along with some sultanas, sugar and yeast into a brewing bucket and left it to fester on the kitchen side for 9 days the result at the end of which was this...

...which has since sat on the side for another week or so. It has clarified a lot in that time which makes a huge difference to how drinkable it looks but it has another few months sitting to do before the final verdict!

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Big Cables and Little Ones Too


All done, it took a little longer than hoped, but then life has been busier than planned. The pattern was very straight forward to follow and well written, the yarn is lovely; soft and cosy, and its a nice fit. What more is there to say, except perhaps, what's next?

I'm definitely a one project at a time sort of person. My knitting time is limited and the busier my knitting bag is the less time each thing gets. For the most part I'd rather work on one thing and have the satisfaction of a finished project, than to try and complete lots of knits at once.

Except when a more exciting project comes along. Then, for example, I might finish a jumper and discover half a glove in the bottom on my knitting bag. Shame it's not really glove weather anymore isn't it?

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Sunday, 26 April 2015

On going backwards and other such things

We realised, with great joy at the thought, that this weekend is the first of five weekends at home. That's five consecutive weekends with only a few bits and pieces in the diary. With a burst of enthusiasm we've made ourselves a list of projects we'd like to work on, almost certainly more than we'll get done - but its good to have aims in life!

First things first though, the bathroom. You may have noticed we've gone quiet on that one, and that's because the project has gone quiet - in fact with no help from us it's been going backwards. We've hit two snags...

Where the sink was....

The first is that around a week after rejoicing in the final fitting of the sink, we discovered that it was not to be the final fitting after all. A very slow leak appeared, coming from a manufacturing fault in the sink itself rather than our plumbing. This one has been really frustrating as plumbing leaks we can deal with (usually by applying a hefty dose of silicon sealant), but a flawed sink means it had to come out and be sent back for a replacement, damaging the finish on the worktop in the process.

Getting ready to refinish the scuffs and other damaged caused by removing the sink.

Our other set back is that the paint on the wall in one particular corner has started to react. Slowly but surely its been bubbling and peeling until we could ignore it no more.

Since the corner in question is the one nearest the bath and shower we debated if humidity was the problem. We stripped off the dodgy paint, made sure everything was dry and applied a fresh coat - and within a matter of minutes it started to bubble up again. Oh.

After the first coat of base coat the bubbliness was still coming through a little
- not very easy to photograph though!

Time to pull in the big boys. Over the course of the weekend we've applied several liberal coats of Base Coat by Polycell - the same people that make Polyfilla, which is supposed to seal in whatever is behind and allow you to paint your colour of choice over the top.  So far we seem to be winning - but we'll have to keep an eye on it.

So this weekend has been re-painting, re-varnishing and putting up the mirrored cabinet that arrived this week.

Forward progress at last - fixing the new medicine cabinet to the wall.

In other news, we've taken the old bath to the tip, revealing the lanky grass that's been hiding underneath it, and bonfired away some more of the bits that have been covering our patio. Oh and Lemon is having her first broody spell of the season - we had a couple of warmer days apparently and she was off, hunkering down in the coop at every possibly opportunity - eggs or no eggs. So starts the annual battle of wills....
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Sunday, 19 April 2015

A Charity Shop Find

A couple of weeks ago we were at a wedding, and found ourselves wandering the streets of Wells between the service and the party in the evening. Not one to resist a charity shop we popped into an Oxfam book shop and left again 10 mins later with a copy of 365 Reasons to Sit Down and Eat for the princely sum of £2.99. It's a recipe for every day of the year, some interesting, some intriguing
and some downright odd!

We certainly wouldn't religiously follow it every day - it would produce the most random of menus - and the first recipe we've tried was from September. (Yes, we were feeling rebellious that day, why do you ask?) It was a hit though - gnocchi with mushrooms in a white wine sauce. We were after a quick meal at the end of a day of DIY, so bought the gnocchi and just made the sauce to go with it. Not the healthiest of meals, but certainly rather tasty.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The amazing colour changing bass guitar

Some of you will know that I play bass guitar (occasionally). I have long fancied making another and adding an extra string. When I spotted this 5 string guitar kit I decided it was time to have one. This time, rather than cutting the body out myself I got someone else to do it but it still needed finishing and assembling. Here's the picture highlights!

Dry assembly for marking the bridge location for pilot holes

Testing the finishes in places that don't matter once the sanding was finished.

Dye applied to the wood (wet). I had a pile of ancient fabric dyes in the garage I decided to try and they seemed to work quite well!

And the colour once dry. It really did change that much!

With the first layers of french polish it changed again.

All polished up.

Applying lemon oil to the fretboard.

Earthing the bridge with a bit of aluminium tape.

Checking the conductivity - you want the strings to be well grounded.

More bits go on. Several of the tiny screws for putting all the bits on were useless! I snapped a few even with pilot holes.

Wired up and fitting strings.

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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sewing the Seeds

Do you remember back in January how we wrote a post about getting on top of the garden? We'd ticked off lots of little jobs and were looking forward to what came next. Well what came next was - you guessed it - the bathroom, and we've not really been in the garden since. Our fairly sorted patio now has a toilet and sink sitting on it, and the old bath is still in the middle of the lawn!

Seed sewing time is upon us though, and regardless of the state of outside we're being hopeful and getting ourselves set up for another year of vegetable growing. We're using our conservatory as a greenhouse once more as this has worked well in the past. This year we've set up a simple set of shelves to rack up all our seedlings on, and over Easter we set about planting some veg.

So far we've sown these:

Broad Beans
Runner Beans
Salad Leaves
Swiss Chard

It all sounds quite exciting when its laid out like that. We always try and grow those things that are nicest fresh, and that we eat lots of over the summer months, but this year we've expanded the list by trying to utilise every bit of space we've got, and also to pop in a few autumn and winter veggies too. Sounds like a plan to me....

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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sleeves... there should be two!

We seem to be having a little blogging crisis at the moment. It's a bit frustrating really, having (reasonably) happily written three posts a week since we started nearly two years ago suddenly we're missing out posts left, right and centre. The reality is that time just seems to be running away with us, another Wednesday, another Sunday and - oh look, it's Wednesday again.

One thing I have been ticking over recently is my jumper. I've finished the body and have started to crack on with the sleeves. I'm itching to start another project, but masterfully resisting on the basis that otherwise this one will never get finished.

 Another couple of days like the last few though and I'll be almost there. I seem to have managed a sudden burst of speed and slightly suprisingly I'm half a sleeve closer...

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Friday, 20 March 2015

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Refitting the Bathroom: 5. Two steps forward, one step back

A misleading title really since everything is part of the planned progress, but when you spend your Sunday evening undoing the work of a weekend it doesn't feel like it!

By the end of Saturday we'd got all the cabinets in position. Much chopping and sanding was needed to carefully shape each piece so that they all slotted together really well, but we got there in the end. We'd also cut the worktop into shape and could finally get a feel for how the finished bathroom was going to look. Seeing the wood of the worktop against the white of the tiles started to bring home how close we are to done.

After church on Sunday we cut holes in the worktop for both the sink and the tap and then sat those in position too. What do you think? From the start the counter-top sink has been one of the features we've been looking forward to and seeing it in position - even if not plumbed in - was a very exciting moment.

And then we had to take it all apart again! Our bathroom is now back to how it was a week ago and all the cupboard panels are down in the conservatory so that we can sort all the final details and get everything painted.

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