Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Laying paving AKA procrastination express…

Ok, so I know I should be putting up miles of shelves and generally finishing the inside of the workshop but we really wanted to get this bit of paving laid. You see, our patio area was sooo small, just big enough for our little table and three chairs. What’s that? You’d like to invite people round? Barbeque perhaps? Well no, you just can’t fit em. Since our Grand Opening Party will require other folk occupying the premises, we felt almost justified spending a few days in the sun.

Until we started that is.

Because it involved moving vast amounts of earth, levelling said earth, and then realising that the old paving blocks we were using (that used to occupy our front garden) were all different thicknesses. This meant we spent a whole day laying each one individually. No easy, straightforward jobs for us! Bah, the sun became torturous pretty quickly but the paving is looking nice!


Just got to fire and glaze the tiles that will fit in those triangular bits and we’re done.

Next up on our procrastination timetable are; Building a wall for a raised bed, planting the bed, painting an ugly concrete garage to be sympathetic, glazing the outdoor tiles, glazing tiles for around the sinks – the list goes on!

Sadly, the miles of shelving will have to wait.

P.s. thankyou to everyone who sent good thoughts for Kitten! I can tell he’s getting better because he’s becoming tetchier by the minute (his fur growing back might give a more accurate visible assessment, but then I am trying to keep my shredded arms covered)


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Kitten came home!

Yay! If you remember, one of our cats went missing about a month ago – after several phonecalls to the Cats Protection League, RSPCA and several vets he didn’t turn up. We also put posters up and some people rang – we even went to see a cat that could have been him but no, we were disappointed.

But, I was on the phone at 8.30am yesterday and I looked up and there he was, just sitting on the carpet licking his paws. I got off the phone just as he slipped out of the cat flap so I followed him, calling and calling. I turned round and there he was sitting behind me. He was very jittery, and very thin but it was him.

It’s awful how thin he is, and he’s lost most of the hair on his head. He has scabs on his face, back and ankles – although he had had a fight with another cat a week before he went missing which triggered him licking his fur until it came off, so in that respect he looks a bit better. He was in the middle of a course of antibiotics when he went missing.

Here he is before:


Handsome huh? And here he is now:


Poor little boy, I nearly didn’t recognise him! The vet has given him more antibiotics and steroids. He weighed nearly 6kg at his last vet appointment (14th May, three days before he went missing) and he weighs 3.5kg now. Her best guess is that he’s been trapped in a garage living off his own reserves which is too awful to think about. But now he’s home and we’re overjoyed. He’s very friendly until the ‘roid rage kicks in! We can’t stop stroking him, and we’ve got the wounds to prove it!


Sunday, 20 June 2010

Avoiding night-time peepery with a roman blind tutorial…

This window needed something to avoid peepery paranoia. I decided to make a blind because I only had one curtain (the other is covering the French doors) and it happened to be only just slightly bigger than the width of the window – certainly not enough to split into two curtains.

You will need:
Upholstery-type fabric
Lining fabric
Screw in eyelets
Strong cord

I don’t have any pictures of the first bit, because it’s yukky measuring :(
The main fabric is going to be flat, but I am using a lining to form the channels for the rods.
First you need to measure your window. You need to cut your main fabric the size of the window plus 10cm all round.
You now need to decide how many rods you are going to use – remember there is one at the very top, but not one at the very bottom. I decided I needed six rods. The dowel I chose was 1cm wide, and when I wrapped the fabric loosely around the dowel then measured it, I needed 5cm of fabric to form a channel for the dowel.
5x6cm = 30cm
My window is 105cm high so…
105cm+30cm = 135cm + hem allowance.
This is the length of my lining fabric. The width needs to be slightly less than the main fabric if you want to hide your cord, so I cut mine 15cm smaller than the main fabric.
Once you’ve cut your two pieces of fabric you need to hem all around the main piece and on three sides of the lining leaving the bottom raw edged. The main piece should have a 5cm hem on each side, you’ll see why later.
Sew top for dowel
Then you need to do the dreaded measuring – for some reason I always do this wrong first time. Now some maths – remember I wanted six rods? Well I also wanted the bottom to have a small overhang of 10cm when the blind was raised. So…
135cm – 10cm = 125cm
125cm – 30cm (excess for the channels) = 95cm
Because one of the rods is at the top, and I have decided on the length of the bottom segment myself, I only need to divide this number by 5.
95cm/5 = 19cm
This will be the distance between the rods.
Phew! I hate maths, even easy maths confusles me.
So, starting from the bottom hem I marked 10cm, then 5cm, then 19cm, then 5, then 19… ending with 5cm at the top. Do the same on both sides.
Now fold the fabric along the middle of each channel so the marks line up and pin like mad.
pin the channels
When you’re happy with your channels, press all the folds.
iron the channels
If you haven’t already, mark the fabric 2.5cm from each fold…
measure your channels and mark
…and sew…
sew channels
…until your lining looks like this: Giant pintucks!
til it looks like this
Press all the channels downwards and lay your lining on your main fabric, making sure the tops are level. See how the lining is smaller on each side? This will hide the cord. The 5cm hem on the main fabric means that you won’t see the back of the fabric.
lay lining on front
Once again pin like mad, especially along the channels.
pin front to backing
Now sew through all the layers, following the channel stitching. Go slowly, you don’t want either of the layers to pucker!
sew through all layers2sew through all layers   
Now is the laborious bit – you need to hand sew the bottom hem and tack around all the sides, including the top. You can do this with your machine, but it’s a lot of stopping and starting (you don’t want to sew those channels shut!) and I wanted to keep the visible stitches to a minimum on the front.
Now measure the width of you lining again (just to be on the safe side), and cut five lengths of dowel. The sixth (top) dowel should be the width of the whole blind for hanging.
saw dowels to length
Round the ends of your dowel, this will make it easier to thread them through your sewn channels.
round your dowels
Screw your eyelets into the ends of all the dowels except the top one…
screw eyelets
…and thread them through your channels.
inset your dowel
Now thread one length of cord through the loops on the right, and another through the loops on the left.
Your cords should be different lengths – one should be twice the height of the blind plus the width of the blind (plus 30cm for luck!) mine was 105cmx2+115cm (+30) = 355cm. The other should be twice the height (+30) = 240cm. Tie the lengths of cord to the eyelets on each bottom dowel.
I screwed two cup hooks (I love cup hooks) into the wood above the window - 1cm in, and 1cm down from the top. Then I hooked the top dowel over the cup hooks. The longer length of cord should be looped through both cup hooks over the top of the blind.
Letting the blind hang loose, tie both cords together at the top and tie something interesting to the bottom.
Screw a cleat to the wall near the window so you have something to tie the cords to (or wrap them around) to keep the blind up, and you’re done!
cleatcleat2 blind
Lawks, that was a lot of steps! But at least now I’m safe from the night-time peepery!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

We’ve got taps!

…and benches and worktops. And stuff.

We’ve had a few days off work – Monday was a Bank Holiday so we got that off, but since it’s half term we managed to get a couple of extra days too – so we’ve been putting in some hours trying to get the workshop finished.


And here’s how it’s looking now. We’ve painted the finished benches and Elle came today to wield her circular saw magic on the worktops. It’s not that I’m scared of it (honest) it’s just that I can’t cut a straight line even with an 8-inch blade, well clamped guides and the will to do it! Elle is a demon with that saw - and she has a sense of urgency even during our current heatwave (which I lack – I just want to sit and drink Robinsons barley water all day).


This sink drainer was a godsend – it has the perfect shaped hole already cut for a Belfast sink and it’s (probably) teak. It cost us £6 on ebay plus the drive to Hull pick it up. It looks lovely now but it was a bit grotty when we got it (which wasn’t mentioned in the listing), but for £6? We knew we could clean it. A bit of elbow grease and a gallon of teak oil later (did you guys know that stuff can spontaneously combust? Yikes!) and it is now shiny and looking as good as new. The taps are chrome, 40’s and cost considerably more!


Our Belfast sink was also an ebay find and cost £5 plus the drive to a Mormon church in Rotherham to pick it up – Elle has a very handy other half who’s going to come and drill us a huge hole through the wall for the sink waste, then we can fit it in and we’re good to go!

IMG_9127 IMG_9126

I also hung a curtain today because I’m paranoid of night-time peepery. Ok, I’m not going to be getting changed in there or anything but a lit room with black uncovered windows always makes me feel like I’m being watched. This is one half of a pair of curtains we bought from Oxfam a few months ago, the other one is going to become a blind for the window.


And finally, we just managed to stop this going into a skip at college. It was dirty and worn and that orangey woody colour. There are also 20 trays in a lovely shade of school furniture brown. So, we painted the carcase in the same shade of white as the walls and the trays are getting a coat of pale blue Plastikote. It has doors that refuse to hang straight so I think we’re just going to leave them off. This will be great for holding all our tools and Interesting Things.

Right, I’m off – Junior Apprentice is on telly and I need to nurse my slight sunburn.