In which we get down to brass tacks

I have been berated by several people for not having posted anything since February so here is one before it turns into April. Things happen and I think, ‘I should put that on the blog.’ and then real life takes over and I don’t. This month I have mostly been decorating the bathroom (it is within the realms of possibility that I may get to have a bath in my own house this year), being an emergency choir accompanist (that was hard, J.S. Bach is so much easier than Pharrell Williams) and just about managing to do all the normal things like drag my children up and down the hill three times a day.

We will be seeing the olds and the very-olds over Easter (shh, don’t tell them I call them that or I’ll be in big trouble next week! Hmm, oops, I think it’s too late anyway…) so I thought they would like to see this one before then. I finally got round to turning this:


into this:


The piano stool belonged to my great-grandma but the top she had made for it was worn out by so many bottoms and I was doing a new one to replace it. I’ve been making it for several years (Small was considerably smaller when I began it) and it stalled after I had done the interesting bit in the middle. In January I gritted my teeth and did the twenty or so rows of beige that were left and the border and then put off turning it into a finished thing for a bit. The best bit was when I eventually dug out the box of two thousand (minus a couple of hundred) 3mm brass nails that were left from something else (because it appears you can only buy small brass nails in boxes of two thousand) to put the bit of trim around the bottom and promptly tipped the entire box all over the floor with my usual style and panache. Tiny very graciously agreed to pick them all up and keep me company while I nailed the rest into the piano stool; her job took her nearly as long as mine did.

The tapestry is stretched around a piece of MDF which looks a bit boring inside so I lined the lid with some interesting paper which we got ages ago in Sheffield to do something with and didn’t. It is Roobarb and Custard doing funny things (with descriptions like ‘Running away’, ‘Sitting (worried)’ and ‘As if rolling up sleeves’) if you can’t make it out. You can click on it to embiggify it if it helps.


The other thing we have been doing is this:


There was a large box with only one flap that had lots of plumbing in it (thank you Mr. Screwfix) which was crying out to be made into a treasure chest. It is to put all the Octonauts in which no longer fit in the box that contained the world at Christmas (it is a globe, not really the whole world, there aren’t that many Octonauts) and is much more fun than buying another plastic tub.


Apologies for the second picture, it was taken by an unsupervised small Photographer C-class who doesn’t know about the flash but I never took a decent one of it in that state so I thought it would have to do. In case you were wondering, because I know you want to know, there are eighty-five rivets each made out of a scrumpled up sheet of loo roll. I counted.


It’s not quite finished yet, it needs a few finishing touches. Oh, and all of the inside still wants painting.


Good job there’s no school this week.


In which the glue is out again

Most of Small’s class seem to have birthdays in May (well, at least a fifth of them so far that I know of) and he wanted to be Spiderman at one of the birthday parties, a friend very kindly found us a costume but Small was adamant that he should have a mask to go with it. After failing to persuade him that face paints would be fine and then failing to find any face paints anyway we resorted to making a mask. Fortunately Spiderman has a more or less ballon shaped head and not too many colours on his face so I did a very hasty couple of coats of papier mâché and dug out some left over acrylic dragon paint. It’s a little bit bendy because I didn’t have time to do more layers of paper and his eyes aren’t quite symmetrical but whose are? And he doesn’t stand still long enough for anyone to notice anyway!IMG_0941

While I had the glue out that finally motivated me to get on with the fruit for the tree. (You can read about it here if you don’t know what I’m talking about because it’s too complicated to explain it all again.) That and the kids need to practice with it soon. I know fruit is all different shapes and sizes but this bunch has to be the most knobbly, misshapen collection of not-quite-apples that I have seen for a while. There are a couple of nice, fat, round ones, a few that look a bit too square that I really must do something about and one that looks like one of those weird peach things with no stone that seem to have collapsed in the middle and I can’t remember the proper name for. What are the chances that the tree in the Garden of Eden was actually covered with crab apples?IMG_0942

There are a couple of golden ones there at the end but the rest need a few more coats of paper first. They are hanging up on the kitchen ceiling at the moment along with various small (and not so small) people’s drawings and the washing.

And here is the progress on the crocheted something or other for the guess-the-name-of-the-something-or-other competition in the summer fair at church. Now isn’t that a cute little bum? Have you worked out what variety of wee beastie it is yet? I could give you a clue about gazing at bottoms but I’m not sure it would help…


In which there is something a little like a tree and a knitted knocker

These two things should probably get a post each to do them justice but I still have a billion (ok, maybe not quite that many) leaves to glue on before Tuesday.

The tree is coming along nicely, I’m quite pleased with the trunk, I’m going to do the leaves by gluing them to some netting which can be removed easily for transporting or autumn, I’ve done a few of them so far but the photo was late at night and a bit dark so I’ll show you that once it’s got the rest on.


And somehow in between that and feeding everyone and making sure enough school uniform is clean, I managed to have a go at a knitted knocker, I was surprised at how quick it was to make (nearly half done whilst watching one swimming lesson)  – definitely a very good small (unless perhaps its an FF cup…) project to have lurking in your handbag. The group is really taking off (they are hoping to register as a charity soon), I don’t know how many knockers have been made but it has been going about three months and they have over four hundred volunteers already. You can read more here about the organisation and how to order a knocker or volunteer for knitting/crocheting.



Now, off I go, back to the arboretum. If I don’t appear before Tuesday, please will someone break down the kitchen door and come and unstick me from the mass of green netting and crêpe paper that will probably be dangling from the washing line…Martell Designs Shop


And now for something completely different

What are you supposed to say when your good friend (who clearly thinks you have too much spare time) asks you to make a tree? Are yew joking? How about you bough to the superior wisdom of your elders and betters and just run fir it? I’ll leave now (that’s quite enough of that, they took me twenty minutes to think up and I think I have used up my bad pun quota for the year now).

Against my better judgement we are making a tree (for a stage prop for two musicals), we make a pretty good team for things like that, I sort out most of the colours and the Man in the Shed does most of the structural engineering (although he did let me loose with a saw and some wire cutters while he was at work). The knitting and the real garden are more or less being neglected this week, the kitchen and my head are full of tree (and PVA glue bottles) and I think I am driving everyone potty – in the middle of real, grown up, totally unrelated conversations I keep saying things like, “Should it have one banana or a whole bunch?” and, “How are we going to attach any leaves?” and, “Does it look too much like an umbrella?”. (My mouth is apparently not connected to my brain, it never says what my brain tells it to and often says things without consulting my brain first to see if it is a) a sensible time to say the thing now or b) a sensible thing to say at any time, ever.)

The tree has a split personality and the specification gets more complicated every time I ask a question about it. Officially it is the Tree of Knowledge for a children’s production of ‘Children of Eden’ in June for which it has to be dismantled on stage during a storm and have golden fruit but sneakily it might also be the Magic Tree (I should probably find out how that story goes) in less than two weeks which has lots and lots of different types of fruit on it and which possibly at some point gets cursed and all the leaves turn black. Oh, and it has to fit into the Composer’s car. With his piano.


Here is a tree skeleton, (ooh, that reminds me – I wonder if Funny Bones is still in print?) I think the window cleaner who was working while I was building this must think I am mad. The trunk is made from waste pipe and the branches from 15mm plastic water pipes, there is too much gaffer tape and some wire mesh which I laced around the trunk to make it less pipey. I haven’t got very far with the leaves yet or how to hang any fruit on it but the cogs are whirling.


And here is the tree trunk after putting some (unwanted) newspapers (that we liberated from the train) to far better use than that for which they were intended. For some reason it gives me great delight to tear up some of the stuff printed in there. Although I did spot one snippet which had a photo of loads of tulips and the caption ‘Springtime at Eden’ which is rather fitting.

Now where did I leave that brown paint?

In which the cave gets taller

In which the cave gets taller

The Chief Engineer and I have had a number of disagreements since yesterday, I have done the hinges which seem to meet with approval but after a detailed discussion about the ‘pointy bit’ I eventually worked out that maybe he meant something like Smoke Hill which is near the bend above Llaniog (in the top left hand corner of Wales).

IMG_0110So I made a pointy bit and he said it wasn’t tall enough. So I made a taller pointy bit and he said it wasn’t pointy enough but I said I wasn’t doing it again and Smoke Hill had a hole in the top like that. So he said it wasn’t pointy enough and he didn’t mean like Smoke Hill, he meant like the one in George and the Dragon which has a mouse. I haven’t seen George and the Dragon (or the mouse) so I said I wasn’t doing it again and that would have to do, the discussion was actually longer than this but it was pretty repetitive so I will spare you the details. He thinks I should make a pointy lid with hinges to go on the top but I think we will have run out of glue before we get that far.

IMG_0111Also I think the bottom bit should be green and the top bit should be brown (like Smoke Hill) but the Chief Engineer is adamant that it has to be brown all over although he did concede that I could paint some grass around the bottom.IMG_0114

And dragon heads are really difficult to photograph (please excuse any mud, I’ve been out making the most of the sunshine and doing some hoeing and turning over the compost) he looks very cute so far but I’m not sure the photo does him justice.IMG_0115


In which there is a lot of glue

I have glue in my hair. It’s half term and we are making a dragon cave, I’m hoping we can make it last all week what with things drying and needing more layers and drying again and needing painting and stuff like that. I may have just promised a small person that I will crochet a dragon to go in the cave; sorry Pip, I will finish your jumper before your old plus oneth birthday, I promise! But knitting is on hold this week or at least in parallel with dragons…

We started with some cardboard and sort of heaped it together in a cave shape with some gaffer tape:IMG_0103 I would give some more detailed instructions for this but we made it up as we went along, there is one main piece for an arch at the front and we left one side open for a big door at the front and filled in the back with some shorter strips, it is corrugated card so it curves nicely if you crease it all the way along. The small hole in the side that you can see in the picture above is for the fire exit (not my idea, although I sort of wish it was!) and is going to have a fire exit sign over it, the specification for the front is to have doors with hinges and the top has to have a pointy bit on it but I haven’t worked out why yet or how big it is supposed to be. Hopefully not too big because we have almost run out of newspapers and are using a copy of the ‘Primary Times’ which I think is a useful magazine which tells you local stuff to do in the holidays but I have never got as far as reading it yet and now it is being very useful as part of a dragon cave.IMG_0109Now I need to go and work out about this pointy bit and the hinges, I’ll let you know how we get on.  Oh, and here is the dragon that I am going to make – the pattern is ‘Fierce Little Dragon‘ designed by Lucy Collin, it’s free on Ravelry. Here’s a picture of her one:


Fierce Little Dragon © Lucy Collin

Apparently ours is going to be red with black spikes and green wings and really, really scary.