Sunday, 30 October 2011

At last - something else is finished

I have had a project on the go that caused some problems at the beginning.

The project was for the Primavera Shaker Village cushion tapestry.

The first problem arose when the kit was delivered from John Lewis without it's normal carrier bag. This is useful for keeping all the wools in one place and provides a colour image of the finished article. The next problem that came along was that the wools seemed to be very much thinner than in other kits making the density of the stitching to be less than normal and giving the surface a variable feel.

I spoke to Charlotte at Sew Exciting, who make these kits, and she helped me quite a bit. Firstly, she was upset that John Lewis had sold the kit without the carrier and was kind enough to forward one to me. With regard to the thickness of the wools, she wasn't aware of any change but recommended that I change my stitching pattern. It appeared that I was doing Continental style stitching so she recommended that I change to the 'English' style. In the continental style, you get two differing patterns on the back of the web where with the English style you get one. She felt that changing the style would result in a consistent tension and improve the look.

I did this and it helped somewhat but I am still fundamentally unhappy with the finish on this cushion. Wendy - my daughter - recommended that I return the kit on the basis that it was not up to standard. However, I decided to persevere and finally finished the item. I think that it will probably look better once it is turned into a cushion.

here it is as a finished tapestry.

Don't forget that you can click on the picture and see a larger image.

I will be turning it into a cushion in the next week or so and I will post a photo at that time of the finished article.

I am now working on a 'Jolly Red' kit for 'The Tree Of Life' and I now have a Primavera Tea Cosy to make after that. I have a stash!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Concertina success

I have been having lots of trouble with the new Concertina. One of the buttons was sticking cause it to play a drone note all the time. I was also havng troible with keeping enough air to play properly.

After a lot of effort involving stripping down the instrument on about 10 occasions, I seem to have fixed the problem and it now plays cleanly. It seems that even when it sounded OK, the key involved was still leaking air because, now that I have sorted the problem, the concertina is completely airtight and I am not running out of the precious stuff quite so often.

Maybe now I can concentrate on playing it again because I was being put off by the problem.

Valerie finishes two puzzles in a week!

She had a great time doing the first one on her own. This is representation of Victorian life made up as a doll's house.

The second one was supposed to be a project over a few weeks. Valerie's 90 year old father comes round once a week and together they work on a Jigsaw. Now this normally takes them about 4 weeks to complete a 1,000 piece puzzle. However, her Dad had selected a 636 piece puzzle. They completed it in the one sitting! (Don't tell his wife what time they went to bed - grin).

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

One for me and one for her

I finally finished my next tapestry. This one is a strange one. It is sold as a Brigantia Needlework Inca Cushion Tapestry Kit. However, it is only 7 count mesh and the wool is quite thick. What you do is make a cross stitch rather than a tapestry stitch. A tapestry stitch is when you go from bottom left to top right across a join in the grid (or the other way round). With this one, you do both so you make a cross over every join. This makes for a very thick result. I made a mistake and didn't cotton onto the fact that you have to go the same way all the time; i.e. you must do the bottomleft to top right first everytime. Otherwise the texture is all jumbed. i did this wrong and had to undo a lot of stitches at the beginning.

the other difference is that the pattern on the backing is spot on accurate - you get a proper colour hit on every cross so you get an accurate pattern.

 However, I found it quite boring to do. With the other tapestries that I have done, the picture on the grid is not accurate so you always have to interpret a bit. With this, the thinking is done for you.

Never mind, it has come out very nice and the colours are very rich.

Valerie has just finished another puzzle with her father. They meet every Tuesday night and do a joint puzzle - I meanwhile drink a bottle of wine - grin. This puzzle is of Valerie's favourite place on earth (no not Hawaii) - Lyme Regis.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Concertina internals

I bought a new concertina recently. It is a 20key C/G Lachenal Anglo if that means anything to you? What it means is that is plays in the key of C and G but has no accidentals. It plays different notes on the draw from the push. The serial number indicates that it was built around 1882 - 1885! Not bad for £300.

When it arrived it had a stuck pad so under instruction from the vendor, I opened it up and fixed it. Today, one of the pads stuck so I took the opportunity to takes some photos of the insides. As you can see, it is nicely put together with leather inserts. It obviously has had new pads, thank goodness.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Weather Station

For those of you who don't know, we run a real-time weather station web page from our home web site.

This is based upon a Davis weather station and WeatherDisplay software.

You will need Flash to  see it so no good for you iPad/iPhone users (did I mention that my iPad came on Wednesday!). However, I am working on getting a non-Flash version working soon.

It is available from our One Rose Cottage web site

This is what it looks like

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Touching Base

No pictures but an update on where things are.

Valerie and her Dad have finished another jigsaw - no pictures because, after I had processed the photos ready for her Jigsaw photo frame, I deleted all those on my camera before I had copied them over! My jigsaw is also going quire slowly.

I am currently halfway through the cross stitch Inca tapestry. The Evening Star one is more difficult to do - I am making progress but slowly.

Concertina - been a bit on hold this week. I got very depressed about the quality of my instrument. Went for a couple of Lachenal instruments on Ebay and missed them. The next time I will have £325 spare is sometime in May so I have found it hard to keep going on the one I have. Doesn't make sense as it has got me here but...

Tin Whistle. I have spent the practice time this week on the whistke and it is slowly improving. I must sit down and record some videos so that I can benchmark all of this.

I will do some photos and some videos ASAP.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Tapestry Update - 1

Some time ago, when we were getting used to the idea of not having a television in the house, I mentioned that I was getting a bit bored. Valerie suggested that I finish something that she had spent a good bit of money and but wasn't able to get to grips with. This turned out to be a tapestry for a cushion - with Shaker patterns. As I have taken an interest in Shaker furniture in the past, this seemed like a good project, once I had got my head around 'doing sewing' - is that a man activity? It turns out that it is very popular with men.

I completed the Shaker cushion last December. Here is the finished article and a close up of some of the detail.

As this was a reasonable success, I deceided to have a go at something a little more complex so we bought another kit for a Winter Village Scene. I started this in December and finished it last night. Here is the finished article and a detail shot.

My next project is much more complex and larger. Firstly, it will not fit onto the table top frame I have - it will need a floor standing frame. Secondly, it is a much more complex image and requires that the final shape of the image is correct. I must explain. As no-one knows what the village scene should look like, I had some freedom in the final details. In the one to come, the image is well known and any variance will spoil the finished article.

The project is of the Evening Star Loco  leaving a main line terminus and is 15" x 30" in size.

Now you see why I must get it right. Anything out of shape and it won't even look like a steam engine!

I will post progress photos.

Jigsaw Update - 1

Jigsaws aren't specifically my hobby. Valerie is a much more ardent puzzler than me so this part of the Blog will cover her activities as well.

I can't go back in time as we have done a large number of puzzles over the last two years. This is the stash we currently have - Valerie will not dispose of any puzzle!

So what is the latest one? Valerie finished this one last night - titled 'The Last Post' and is 1,000 pieces.

Valerie always used to stick to 500 piece puzzles when doing them on her own but she has got better and quicker so she has moved up in size. She also spends every Tuesday evening doing a puzzle with her father (who is 90years old!). You will see those as they finish.

I also generally have a puzzle on the go. Some time ago I completed a pair of 1,000 piecers showing a single farmyard in two seasons - called 'Always On The Go'. I have recently started the other pair of puzzles for the series - titled 'Never A Dull Moment'. However, this has probably two or so weeks to go.

Tin Whistle Update - 1

Now this is not fun! I was cruising through You Tube looking at as much Concertina music as I could and constantly came across someone playing the tin (or penny) whistle. As these cost around £5 and have recorder/flute fingering, I assumed that as I can play both of these instruments, it would be easy.

I went out and bought what they had at the local music shop - a C whistle - not realising that the fingering may be the same but that the note that comes out depends on the tuning of the whistle. Hence, when I thought I was playing the low D, I was actually playing Middle C! This meant that I had to transpose the music in my mind to get the right notes. Good Old EBay - I picked up a Meg D whistle for £4.50 including postage. A D whistle plays the same as a recorder but also has the same fingering for the notes - hence playing what I think is a D, actually is a D.

The issue with a tin whistle is to get the tone right. The video that prompted me was this one on You Tube by The High Kings. The tone that he gets on what is obviously a cheap whistle is superb. If you listen to my recordings you will see that I have some way to go.

This is where I am at the moment
The Leaving Of Liverpool
I'll Tell Me Ma!
and one of my very favourite tunes - The Man On The Flying Trapeze

I shall progress.  A Jesuit priest - Ryan Duns has some good instructional videos so I will keep on with them and I will post the videos into the Chiff and Fipple forums - Chiff and Fipple is a web site dedicated to the tin whistle.

More on this as I go.

Concertina Update - 1


I bought a Concertina on EBay for £75 about 2 years ago. I tried to play it but didn't get very far. This Christmas, in trying to emulate a scene from Victoria Wood's Dinner Ladies I decided to learn Jingle Bells and play it on Christmas Day to the family. Well, I did and it was rotten! Hence, I decided that I had to learn how to play it properly. I am now putting up to one hour every day into practicing and am saving up for a better instrument which I hope to buy at the end of this month.

I have put some videos of my Concertina playing - such as it is - on You Tube.

These are here
New York Girls - Can You Dance The Polka
Dorset Four Hand Reel
How not to practice

I am going to an event run by the East Anglian Tradional Music Trust called Melodions And More at the end of March where I hope to get lots of tips and some advice on a new instrument. Mind you, everyone is saying that my budget of £300 - £400 will not get me much in the way of an instrument as you can pay upwards of £1,700 - however, the cash I have is what I have so that's what I can spend.

More later

Introduction - why another Blog?

As I already have two blogs about my hobbies, having a third would seem to be overkill except for the fact that I have more active hobbies than are covered by the two existing blogs.

What hobbies do I have then
  • I am learning to play the Concertina
  • I am learning to play the Tin/Penny Whistle
  • I do Tapestry
  • Valerie and I do Jigsaws
This blog will cover the activities in these four, leaving the existing blogs to cover my modelling hobbies.

If you don't know those blogs then they are here: - for my plastic scale modelling blog - for my Model Railroad blog