Sunday, May 29

Bike maintenance workshop and stuff I've been upcycling/sewing

A bit about the bike workshop I attended. 

It was given by Lew Lawton of at nearby Shrivenham. This event was organised by Sustainable Wantage at The Wantage Mix. It was a mere £10 for 6 hours tuition. There were 5 ladies and 1 man! We did a bit of looking at stuff on a screen in the morning then and then it was all hands on deck doing the actual stuff. We had to take off the back wheel (I was the only one there with wheelnuts... everyone else had quick release), remove the inner tube and replace it and the wheel (all of which I knew how to do but it was good to repeat it). After learning about what wheels and tyres we all had, we had to pick out the correct size and type of inner tube from a selection. We also learnt about adjusting brakes, fitting new brake pads (I'm going to do that on mine this week), and adjusting gears (I must admit that didn't really sink in), and a thing called the M safety check.  And cleaning and lubricating. The word Teflon came into the conversation which it does with sewing machines as well! Lew is doing another workshop on July 23rd, so if you're local and reading this, then go for it! There was a waiting list for the one I did.

I have to give credit to my Husband here, after all it was he who taught me how to mend a puncture, but sometimes, as indeed some of the other ladies said, it's a good idea to learn from someone else as well as one's other half.......

I must admit I'd like a workshop stand and have looked up the two types and how much they are. 

This type - less dosh


this type, the "proper" one - more dosh

Has anyone out there got any kind of workshop stand, and if so how do you rate it?

Workshop pics

Thank you to Jo Harvey of Sustainable Wantage for letting me use your photos.

My bike gets its brakes looked at (that's me in the cream jumper).

Two roadies doing something to one of their bikes.

My bike again. Well, it is lovely.....

The road bike again. Gear talk this time.

 I cycled home in the rain, but had borrowed Husband's (expensive...) waterproof trousers so arrived home nice and dry. They are Rab, not cycling specific but very comfortable for cycling in, very breathable.

On to another subject, "this week I have been mostly doing" getting ready for a sale in my shed. I call it my shed but actually it is rather posher than a shed, and used to be my sewing room when all the children still lived at home. I no longer use it to sew in as it makes more economical sense (regarding heating) to sew in the house, now that we have the space. I don't really use my shed at the moment, but it's coming into its own tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday) as I am having a sale in it, of stuff we don't want any more, some bags I made, and furniture I've been upcycling. Here's some pics:

Before - ordinary but solid pine bedside cabinet

After - painted with satinwood, old brass effect knobs replaced with wooden ones, which I painted and oiled.

This was a bathroom cabinet which I painted and decoupaged with flour bags. I was intending to use it in our kitchen but have now changed my mind on future colour schemes, so the bright blue had to go!

Is it my camera or am I just lousy at taking good quality photos? This was a rather boring mahogany veneer table. I covered it in plain thick cotton fabric to give an interesting texture, then painted it and oiled it.

I'm told these are thimble shelves. I started priming them then remembered to take a photo!

Primed, painted, decoupaged and varnished.
By the way, I do find that Waitrose Kitchen magazine, and John Lewis Editions magazine, are just the right weight for decoupage! The blue bits on the thimble shelves were from the "blue" Editions mag that came out earlier this year with really beautiful colours in.

Bum bag made from this pattern

Bags made from old jeans and remnants from other projects.

Well, that's it for now. Let's hope that lots of people come to my sale then maybe I'll be able to afford a workshop stand......


Monday, May 16

Punctures and pictures

Now that the weather is improving and the days are so much longer, I have been cycling more - no big trips yet this year, just mainly to go shopping, although I often go a long way round. I'm not, frankly, the type to go cycling just for the sake of it, or for "training" purposes. I just like cycling because it gets me places and keeps me fit in a cheap, environmentally friendly and highly enjoyable fashion.

I had a puncture a while ago and had to do the call of shame to my husband, who fortunately was on his way home from work (by car) and would be almost passing where I was. Last year I had watched Husband mend a puncture for me, as I knew I ought to learn how to do it, so now was the moment to do it myself. I did it outside on a sunny day, with help from said Husband. Then lo and behold the same tyre went flat after the next journey. This time the day was not sunny so I got the bike into the kitchen. Kitchens are not just for cooking! They are most definitely for sewing as well (see the fabric slung over the chair) and fixing bikes.

I though that maybe my previous puncture repair would prove to be the reason for the flat i.e. the patch had come unstuck, but it had remained perfectly in place - on the left, and by the way it was a self-adhesive job from Wilkinson's (shall buy some more when I am near a Wilkinson's again) that I had bought Husband for his birthday. But in fact there was a massive split, and it wasn't even on a seam. There is a slight right angle at the left hand end. So I put a new tube in, and did it all by myself.  I didn't get the tyre back on quite properly so Husband re-did it (I'm learning from my mistakes). I have since bought two new inner tubes, which necessitated a small crisis of conscience regarding where to buy them. Buy Bontrager brand from local bike shop at a cost (last time) of £10 for two (£5.50 each) or send off to, in this case Wiggle, and get two, delivered, for just under £6? I don't think, but can't be certain, not being an expert, that there's much difference in quality. I really really like to support local shops, but when money is tight sometimes financial considerations have to come first.

I recently booked my bike in for a service locally, but then discovered that  this chap is doing a bike workshop locally, 6 hours for the princely sum of £10! So I have cancelled the service and booked myself in for the workshop. I think that with doing stuff to bikes I don't quite trust myself to do it properly and safely, but I know that the more I do it the more able and confident I'll get, just like I have done over recent years with sewing machines. (I can't believe how I treated my sewing machine in the past........hardly ever changed the needle, never oiled it......).

I got this wonderful bell for my birthday recently! My son (the one who has the pfaffing problem!! Read all about that here) got it in Germany. It is much louder than the last one I had, which definitely pinged rather than dinged, and sounds rather like a shop bell and now when I go out I look forward to dinging it at pedestrians.

Talking of sewing machines, as I was a minute ago, I found this in a charity shop, going for a song, so I snapped it up. It was in very good condition, and all I needed to do was clean it, oil it, check that all the stitches were working, and then sell it at a vast profit...... Well it wasn't vast but I did indeed sell it at a profit a few days later. It was a really good machine and like new. I'm not sure of the exact date as it seems you can't find the dates of manufacture of New Home machines except the really old ones, but from the style of it (and the manual) I'm guessing it must be 1970s or early 1980s. The model is a 641. 

And now for some sewing.

I am taking part in Stitch Wantage, which you can read about here. I didn't manage to get to the first meeting so I think the fact that I got lumbered with probably the most boring building in Wantage - the Leisure Centre - is due to the fact that everyone else had already picked out the nice old interesting ones! But I didn't actually mind as in a way it's presented more of a challenge.

Most of the other ladies are doing their buildings in traditional embroidery, but I am using applique and machine stitching, which perhaps is appropriate given that it's a modern building). In the pictures above and below I have appliqued the roof on (right hand side and small bit on left hand side, brown),  and in the picture below I have appliqued the wall on the left. However, I just wasn't happy with the wall, so I unpicked it - hand and machine stitching.......took ages - but I'm glad I did.

 This is the completed picture, although I have still got to add the title and my name.

Some applique, and a little hand embroidery, on the bits above the wall, with machine stitching over it.  There are bike racks at the front of the building, so I used a bit of artistic licence and put my own bike in! I hadn't got any suitable fabric (others used organza) for the glass in the doors so I put some glue on the sections to make them shiny and it worked quite well.

I appliqued the white wall, the roof, and the doors, and machine stitched over. There's also a bit of hand stitching on the grey grill thing.

I've never done this sort of thing before, but really enjoyed doing it. Two of the other ladies both cycle and sew! What is it with cycling and sewing??!! The panels are going to be exhibited between 1st June and 16th July in the Vale and Downland museum in Wantage. 

A bit more cycling

On both days this last weekend I cycled to some of the studios opening for Oxfordshire Art Weeks. The weather was very good for it, nice and warm, windy but not too bad. On Saturday I went to Shrivenham and then on to Bourton (the latter a very picturesque village but I wouldn't want to live there - probably one of those villages that's dead during the week when everybody's at work). Then home, and was pleased to find I could still get up a local steep hill. 

On approaching Shrivenham I got talking to a young German cyclist, who had come over to Harwich, and was making her way down to Cornwall, hoping to find work for the summer. I could see she was looking for somewhere, and it turned out that she had a noise on her bike and someone had told her about the chap I mentioned earlier who is doing the bike workshop, so she was trying to find his house. Good job I'd looked up where he lived as I was able to direct her. I also gave her one of my sewing fliers and said - if you get into difficulties and need somewhere to stay then ring me.

About 22 miles. 

On Sunday I went to Great Coxwell, via Little Coxwell as I was hoping to find that going this way would take me to an easier place to get across the horrible A420, which indeed it did. I have previously crossed it nearer to Faringdon, and that can be a nightmare particularly during rush hour. The only other safe place to cross it locally is further east at Buckland, where there is an island in the middle of the road. I hate the fact that this major road chops up the countryside making it very difficult to get from south of it to north of it in anything but a car! Great Coxwell had several artists exhibiting. Again a very pretty village but I wouldn't want to live there! 

I then cycled on and and called on some friends who have recently moved to Faringdon (don't get me started on the terrible state of the "cycle path" at the side of the road.....) and later attempted to get to Littleworth where there was another studio open, but I gave up in the end as it meant too much travel on the A420. The only way to get to this village without going on the A420 (though I'd still have to cross it) would be a much longer route going further north from Faringdon and then east and south - I might try it if I get time. Then unfortunately I had to cycle back along the A420 to get to my turning off. Boy was I glad to turn off!!! 

About 20 miles. 

I got home to be told that our younger son (25) had had a motocross accident near Aylesbury, and was in hospital with both wrists broken......I am thanking God that it was no worse. He is being operated on this morning and we shall visit later today.

And now back to some earning-me-money-sewing (a dress alteration), so bye for now.