Sunday, 14 February 2010

First seeds are in

Today I've planted my first seeds of the year into a windowsill propagator (£1.99 in B&M's bargain!). I braved the cold long enough to retrieve the seed compost from the broken greenhouse outside, but where I actually did today's sowing was the living room floor in front of the fire! I used newspaper to protect the carpet:


In the black plastic seedling trays in the right of the propagator are my three tomato varieties, Money Maker, Golden Nugget, and Gardner's Delight. Those were the last of the tomato seeds from last year, so I hope they're still alive. In the left side of the propagator I've stood toilet roll tubes with the bottoms folded to hold the compost, they've each got one broad bean planted in them. I prefer to start things like peas and beans in the card tubes, I find it easier to plant them out when they've grown with less disturbance that way.


I've also had 3 egg boxes (6 halves) full of seed potatoes sitting about to chit for the last couple of weeks. I decided to buy the variety Maris Piper, as it's the kind I buy from the supermarkets. It's a good all rounder, and I hate new potatoes so I'm not planting any. 
I can't plant anything else now until I've sorted out the greenhouse and found my other propagator and seedling pots, they're in there somewhere!


Saturday, 13 February 2010

New project, rabbit hutch to chicken coop

I love Freegle (formerly Freecycle). I always keep an eye on it because you never know what people are going to give away. This morning I've been and collected a double rabbit hutch, which is missing the middle floor. So if you wanted to keep rabbits in it it would need fixing, but I want to keep chickens in it, so the floor would have had to go anyway I think.
Here's the hutch, with my dog posing next to it:


I hope it's big enough for 3 small breed chickens. If not I'll have to go back to the drawing board, or look at  keeping something like quail instead....
Anyway, the hutch is now sitting in the garage waiting for the weather to warm up enough to work outside, and I have more research to do.....

Monday, 8 February 2010

Robe Tutorial

I originally found the instructions for making my robe somewhere on the net, but I can't find the original page, so I've had to make do with translating my own notes for you. If it looks familiar and you can give me the link to the original please do.

This tutorial is aimed at people who probably haven't sewn any clothes before. If you can already sew and follow patterns you can probably come up with something a bit better, but this is fine if you need to make a basic robe.

So first of all you need to find material of the right size that you like. I went for a cotton mix in black. It should be twice the length from your ankles to your shoulders. For the width get someone to measure your outstretched arms, wrist to wrist, you may want to add a couple of centimetres for hemming. You'll also need tailors chalk, or another way to mark out lines, a measuring tape, some pins, and a needle and thread (or sewing machine) to sew it up at the end. There's a bit of maths too, so a bit of brain power or a calculator is recommended. 
Now these instructions might be a bit vague, I sort of went with what looked right at the time.

Step one
Fold material in half across the length (B), with the side you want to be the finished outside on the inside:

Step two
Fold in half again along the width (A):

Step three
You'll need to take some measurements and the mark out the points as shown.
Point C is 35cm from the top edge
Point D is 30cm from the top edge
Point E is your chest measurement plus 20cm divided by 4, marked out from the right hand side.
Point F is 45 or 50cm from the right hand side
 Join the points with straight lines using tailors chalk or equivalent.

Step four
Cut along the lines making sure you're cutting through all the layers of material at the same time. It might be useful to pin them together first to make sure they stay lined up. 

Step five
(Unpin and) Unfold to the same position as in step one. Pin the together along the sides you will be sewing up. At this stage if you are very careful you may be able to try it on for a preview. Watch out for all the pins though! Especially against your face!

Now get sewing, and when you're done turn it the rightside out. Et voila! 1 robe.

I did mine by hand but I'm sure it would be a lot faster by machine. To start with I folded the hemmed the bottom and the sleeves (try it on again to check the length), then I sewed the rest. You could perhaps get a better finish if you used an overlocker but I think it's adequate for it's purpose. It will be quite baggy, because you need some room to get it on and off, but with a belt (usually cords) it looks fine. 
I made the neck on mine too big and decided to sew a strip of ribbon around to make it smaller again, and the fabric I used wasn't very wide so I have three-quarter length sleeves. I may sew ribbon over the ends of the sleeves too, to match the collar.

Let me know if this works for you.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Imbolc 2010

I have a theory that Stoke-on-Trent is a bit of a black hole. Innovation doesn't seem to be a quality we possess and we always seem to be at least 5 years behind the rest of the country. For example we only started recycling plastics last year. What's that got to do with anything? Well when I was 13 I discovered a religion called Wicca, and decided that it made a lot of sense and I'd like to become a wiccan. I had a look around and discovered that there weren't any local groups at all (unless they were in hiding, in which case they still wouldn't be wanting new members). A good group won't accept members under 18 anyway but I was at least hoping to find one for the future. Finally in 2008 (then about 22) I found a listing for a new group and joined the training coven. We've been together now just over a year and last night celebrated Imbolc together.

Imbolc is one of the fire, or light, festivals. It's a time when spring is not quite upon us, but the sun is growing stronger and the earth is waking up and preparing for all the new growth to begin. 

This was the altar:


 And here's a pic of me consecrating the salt, wearing a robe that I only just finished sewing in time!

I'll try and remember how I made the robe and do another post with the instructions.