Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Prospects of an upgraded Concertina

This was my current concertina. It is a Lachenal 20 button C/G Anglo. It dates from late Victorian times so is a bit precious. It has a lovely tone and plays beautifully. The problem is that it can only play in two keys - C and G.  This makes it very restrictive for playing a lot of the music written between 1900 and 1950 as these often use other keys or lots of "accidentals". The way out of this was to acquire a 30 button concertina - thus giving me all of the required extra note. However, these are normally snapped up by players of Irish music, which uses concertinas as a regular part of the line up in the bands. The result is that there is quite a jump in price to a 30 button, let alone a concertina to match my existing one.


I have had to close down my model railway for the foreseable future so I came up with a "cunning plan". As I couldn't use all of my model railways stuff but was playing my concertina every day, why not dispose of all it and use the funds for my other active hobbies - playing the concertina and making scale plastic models.

The selling of the N gauge stuff went very well - apart from owing EBay £300.00 in fees! It was a shame as I had only bought it all this year but there we are. Suddenly I could look at buying a £750 Lachenal 30 button concertina. 

With my new found finance, I went down to Canterbury to spend £750 and pick up a Lachenal 30 button and then went on to Faversham where they have a very nice model shop. I bought a complex model kit of an A1J Skyraider in 1:32 - it is nice having a large stash fund!

Playing the concertina showed that there were problems with it so, on instruction, I contacted Mike Acott, our local concertina expert. He fixed some of the issues but others soon reared their heads so I arranged to have it returned with a full refund. So far, not so good. On advice from Mike, I contacted Chris Algar, who seems to be the biggest source of traditional concertinas (rather than new ones). I was determined to get a traditional one as, again under advice from Mike, I wanted to avoid a new one. New ones have compromise reeds and don't sound as nice as the older ones that have proper concertina reeds. The £750 concertina was a Lachenal, like my 20 button but had mahogany ends and brass reeds so sounded a bit softer.  Chris didn't have anything in that range so I had to look at spending extra money and get a steel reeded Lachenal. There is always a demand from Ireland for these instruments so the price reflects that demand. There were two that I felt were right but the both cost £1,300! I could only do this by part exchanging my 20 button. I was sad to do this but it was the only way that I could go and keep some stash money behind.

Chris lives in Cheshire, some few miles north of Stoke-on-Trent so it was a bit of a hack. I left home at 7am and got back at 6.30pm! Chris gave me £400 for my 20 button which represented a 33% profit. I have been told that buying a new concertina is like buying a new car - you lose money on it the moment that you buy it - but buying an "antique" concertina is an investment. 

I now have a superb Lachenal 30 button concertina. It does have mahogany ends but has been polished so it looks like my old one. It has bone buttons and steel concertina reeds. Having had a look inside, I have found out that the serial number is 124088 - my old one was 74298 (c1885) - so that puts its manufacture somewhere around 1900. 


The only visible differences between this and the old one are the 30 buttons, of course, and less intricate fretwork so this is one of Lachenal's cheaper models. Getting a true rosewood with full fretwork would have cost another £400 - £500  and wouldn't sound any different.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A Family heirloom - I hope

It was my brother-in-law (and sister-in-law)'s 25th wedding anniversary recently. I was asked to make a present for them so I chose a Jolly Red "Love Birds" kit. This took a few months to make as it had 24,336 stitches, including having to work out the words for the names and date.

Anyway, it was done in time. I used a cushion interior and a fat quarter of fabric from "The Cheap Shop - Tiptree" and made it up on my trusty John Lewis sewing machine.


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Commuter Chaos

Just finished a Wasgij (Jigsaw back to front). A Wasgij puzzle is one where the image on the box is NOT the image of the jigsaw. The jigsaw is a connected image but not the same. This means that you have only a small number of clues as to how the puzzle goes together.

I have been doing "Commuting Chaos" over the last few days and, whilst challenging, was great fun.


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Cracking on now my Open University has finished

Just completed my Open University degree (in case you were wondering, I got a 2.2). Took the time out to finish this jigsaw that has been sitting there for a few months unloved and untouched.

It is a Gibson puzzle - I Love Autumn.


Just click on the image for a full sized version.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Not much has happened

Not for three years, any way. I have been busy on my model railroad and making plastic scale models. In addition, my health hasn't been brilliant so I have spent a lot of time sitting around and napping. Oh, and there was a little matter of finishing off my Open University degree. Back out of that now and "living" again!

I have stopped doing patchwork, for the time being, although I still intend to make a bed cover to replace the one I purchased in Malaysia back in the 1990s (which replaced a previous one bought in the same craft shop in Kuala Lumpur back in the 1980s). However, it will have to wait.

I did make a couple of covers for the large pillows that we have on our bed. These have always been a problem as it wasn't possible to buy any covers. As always, there is one mistake in the make up of these two. They are rectangular rather than square and I set the patterns incorrectly so that one has to be "portrait" and the other "landscape" for the patterns to match. Oh well, you live and learn.


Since then, for my other hobbies, I have been concentrating on sewing tapestries. I find that this is a very therapeutic task in the evening. I am often too tired to do too much but sitting doing a repetitive task like sewing is possible. The first tapestry, from Ehrman, that I started, since the last of this blog, was very complex and I wasn't enjoying it. This was their Kasbah cushion.

Image (c) Ehrman Tapestry - not my sewing!

The beauty that is EBay came my rescue and some kind soul took it off my hands. I invested the funds into another one from the same company. This is their Oxiana cushion. Just to give you a guide as to what is involved, this latest cushion is 16" x 11" with  12 stitches to the inch. This comes out at a whopping 25,344 stitches. No wonder that it took me so much time. It was also complicated by the fact that I ended up one column across from the pattern printed on the canvas which took a lot of thinking. In fact, I got it wrong a couple of times and had to unstitch some areas and re-do them. Ehrman were kind enough to send a few extra strands of thread as I ran out along the way. We already have more cushions than we can use. These three, for instance, sit on the bedroom window cill.


Thus, we had to find something else to do with this newly completed one. In the end, we sent it up to Emma K Framing, in Saxmundham, as they have a tapestry framing service. In the process, they square the tapestry up. This is something that I haven't managed successfully so I am glad to find someone who can do it for me on all my future efforts. Three weeks later, we got the finished article back and we are so pleased with it. It makes a superb wall decoration.


As you can see, it was very complicated with lots of colour changes. However, I am quite proud of it. My next project is an anniversary present and, as such, I can't really talk about it as we want it to be surprise. All I can say is that I have about five months to complete a tapestry that has 24,336 stitches which comes out at about 116 stitches EVERY day! Well, I should manage 500 a night so I won't have to work every evening, thank goodness.

Hopefully, it won't be so long next time to update this blog.




Friday, 4 July 2014

My first attempt at a patchwork bag

This was made from a design by Monkey Buttons. I also bought a set of fabrics from them.

The bag wasn't cheap. The pattern was around £15 and the fabrics cost £40. I could have bought one cheaper - well maybe not!

It was made by cutting out 60 triangles. These had to be sewn together into strips and the strips then combined into one sheet. Once put together, I sewed the bag up. It had fusible wadding between the outer fabric and the lining. This is pressed with an iron to fuse it to both fabrics. It gives the bag some body. I then cut some parallelogram shapes - leaned over rectangles - to make the handle. Again, some fusible wadding went inside. I sewed across the fabric along the triangle edges to give a quilted look.

Here is the fabric before making up.


Here is the completed item.

I already have an order for a second one!


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A birthday present for my eldest daughter

As Sam loves a cup of tea, I thought that a tea cosy would be a great birthday present. This is a Jolly Red kit and has taken me quite a few months to complete. I still have to turn it into a cosy, of course.

We are off the The Cheap Shop, in Tiptree on Thursday where I will get some backing material, the appropriate sewing thread, some suitably coloured braid and some oven glove filler. Then I will have to hand sew it all together. I tried to machine sew it last time and it doesn't really work.

Here is the finished tapestry.