Monday, October 31

Barbour jacket - repairing and re-waxing.

This is undoubtedly my most expensive item of clothing! I treated myself to it in 2011 and it cost £211. I love it for its style and utilitarian practicality (lots of pockets!) and the fact that's it's cotton and therefore breathable. I think it's the sort of thing that you can wear anywhere at all and you won't look out of place (not that I care much about looking out of place!!!). I can stuff it in my rucksack or bike panniers and it doesn't take up too much space and is very lightweight. It's Barbour's Amelia Flyweight although I can only find it on an American website now so it looks as if they don't do this one any more.

I've worn it and worn it but only re-waxed it once before. I decided it was time for another re-waxing (actually it was well overdue) after a very wet walk last month reduced it to this state -

The back is the worst.

When I looked it over properly I found that it also needed mending. It had a rip on the back, probably either caused by a thorn or more likely barbed wire (I do tend to crawl through barbed wire fences at times...) -

and this hole and tear on one sleeve -

and this tear on the cuff of the other sleeve. These small tears are actually just where the fabric has worn out on the crease -

For some reason unknown even to me, I decided that mending the holes and rips by stitching would be too tricky - lots of unpicking of seams involved - and so I sent off for some Stormsure glue, which I came across on this YouTube video, intending to copy the methods of mending shown there, but when the glue came I had another look at the jacket and thought - "there really isn't much unpicking involved. And I'd always rather sew than glue if possible." So, unpicker in hand, I set to work. (I'm sure the glue will come in handy for other things though).

I should add that prior to any of this I had wiped the jacket all over with a sponge and cold water (Barbour's instructions) to clean it, and also tried to get some of the creases down the front out, by ironing, using a cloth under the iron. It didn't work - I think the creases are just too old.

Creasing down the front facing

Now we have a picture of the canvas from Husband's boyhood tent. Eh? Why? Because - during our clearout prior to moving I found this ancient tent in our outhouse (been there 32 years...). I said to him - can I cut this up? In typical man fashion he rather reluctantly agreed (what else was he going to do with it????) so before he could change his mind I chopped it up and washed the bits at 60 degrees, thinking that if it was going to fall apart a good hot wash would make it do so, but it didn't, and I now have the pieces in my much-reduced-before-moving fabric stash. Anyway, this was what I used tiny pieces of behind the holes and rips in the jacket. It was just the right weight and I knew that the colour wouldn't show after stitching.

This is the rip on the back, with lining unpicked and piece of tent canvas in place -

I used strips of Steam-A-Seam to hold the patch in place. 

 The rip after mending -

I did the other mends in the same way, unpicking the lining, patching on the wrong side and then stitching on the right side. The thread by the way wasn't a perfect match, but I reckoned that by the time I'd rewaxed the jacket this wouldn't show.

Mend in cuff  -

Mend on sleeve - 

After restitching the lining, I did the re-waxing, which actually took me an hour and forty minutes......They say do it in a warm room - well the room wasn't warm and to be honest I think it would have to be JOLLY warm in order for the melted wax not to solidify pretty soon after applying it, which it did. They also say use either a cloth or a sponge; I used bits of old cloth but can see why using a sponge would be the better option, as I can see tiny bits of fluff from the old white cloth on the jacket. I think the wax might work into the fabric better with a sponge too. However, I'm pleased with the overall results, as shown below.

Mend on back



After re-waxing I went over the jacket with a heat gun (we haven't got the recommended hair dryer) which evens out the wax, and then left it overnight. However in the morning I could see that there were still tiny lumps of excess wax on it, particularly at the seams, so I went over it again with the heat gun and wiped off the excess. Result!

The finished article - 

Remember the "before" picture of the back? A lot better now!

This WAS a lot of work, but well worth doing.  Here's an interesting article on Barbour's repair shop oop north.  I'd love to go there! Wonder if they do Open Days....


Monday, October 24

Coffeeneuring #2, and a new light for my bike.

I thought to myself the other day -

"What this bike some lights."

So, today, I got one, a very stylish back one (will look out for an equally stylish front one)  in my favourite charity shop, for a mere £2. Here's a pic of it in the rear pannier - a temporary measure of course. I think it needs fixing properly, by its nice wooden base, maybe to the rear rack.

Nice light eh? Bet you didn't know Ikea did bike lights. Only one problem - I can't find a socket on the bike to plug it in to.

Anyway, back to the Coffeeneuring 2016 challenge. Today it was tea actually. I'm very English and have coffee in the morning, and tea in the afternoon, unless I go out for an evening meal in which case I have to have coffee afterwards, preferable with something chocolatey.

The venue was Waitrose in Wantage, where of course the tea was free. This is the front of the shop and that's my blue Trek on the left. Proof that I cycled this time!

This is round the back of the shop where I sat - with my lamp!

Today I thought - what with all this stuff about drinks cups not being recyclable, I thought I'd take my lovely very-suitable-for-carrying-on-a-bike enamel cup with me (present from one of daughters) and use that. The lady in front of me had one of those re-usable cups that you can buy, but I haven't got one and couldn't see any reason not to just take any old mug and use that. However, I did not get the proper amount of tea so maybe the machine is so clever that it can detect a non-Waitrose approved vessel. Hmmmmm..... Still, it was hot and free, and I enjoyed it with a chocolate chip digestive - also taken with me! Coffeeneuring #3 might actually involve money!

A round trip of about 9 1/2 miles. Better than driving any day!


Wednesday, October 19

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2016 #1

I always enjoy cycling more when I've got a motive, whether that's the need to get somewhere and the bike is the only way of getting there, or whether it's just a lovely day and I can have a WHOLE day out - I'm not so good at getting out for shorter rides.

So I've decided to join in with this "coffeeneuring" challenge (details here, Oct. 7th to November 20th) which I came across on this (anniebikes) cycling blog I've recently started following. Basically it's about cycling and drinking coffee or tea. What's not to like?! I'm doing it as a way of making myself get out for short, but more frequent, bike rides during the next few weeks. I'll no doubt need another challenge after that to keep me going throughout the winter! It also means that when I eat that naughty something with my coffee or tea I can at least say "Well I've just used enough calories cycling here to justify it!"

This morning's trip, then, was down to a nearby lake at Baulking, which was until a few years ago a fuller's earth mine. I made coffee in my insulated Thermos cup and took it with me, along with a chocolate Hob Nob - currently on offer in Sainsbury's. I've never used the cup much so didn't know how well it would retain the heat. [NB - we did not choose this awful grey/green Formica! Or the tiles. Or the cupboards. But still, I can put up with them. Just.]

When the mining operation was closed down they planted lots of trees round what is now the lake, and there are footpaths through them. I got quite close to the lake with my bike but then came to a kissing gate, so locked it up to the fence and walked the rest of the way to the lake.

The photos are terrible. I don't know whether that's my camera or me, although I do know that there is a problem either with the camera, the charger or the battery as the battery went dead on me despite being newly charged.

So this is a grotty photo of the view across the lake. In the distance you can see White Horse Hill. Don't ask me what that grey splodge is.....

On the lake there are geese, swans and ducks. And apparently something called Blue Algae which can be dangerous, so the signs say, if you come into contact with it.

Unfortunately there are no benches to sit on and of course the grass was wet, so I just stood here and drank my coffee, which was warm rather than hot. But still, it made a lovely change from drinking it at home. And it was a good job I'd put the cup in a plastic bag (that's the white thing in the pic) and kept it upright in my panniers as it had leaked. Probably need a proper flask rather than one of these cups. This was where I stopped.

I then walked all round the lake and struggled a bit to find my way back to my bike. I am a bit inclined to get lost (probably older siblings kept telling me to when I was a child and it went very deep psychologically - certainly older sister and then boyfriend-now-husband bribed me with money for ice lollies to get lost!) but I don't really mind. Getting lost can be quite beneficial, and this morning I was in no particular rush to be anywhere so didn't mind getting mildly lost.

Because of the dodgy camera battery I didn't get the pic of my bike as proof that I'd actually cycled here (there are Rules for this challenge!) but the ride is on Strava so if anyone disputes my claim then I'll tell them to look on there.

I was going to cycle home doing a circuit of 6 or 7 miles but as it was such a lovely day I made it a longer circuit of 12 miles or so.


Tuesday, October 4

I'm back! with a black Singer 201

Hello again!

We moved in to our new house a few weeks ago, after spending the best part of two months getting rid of stuff we didn't need. Downsizing is hard work, but, as many people said to me, very liberating - getting rid of stuff you don't need. We gave it away to charity shops, sold lots on Gumtree, and had a permanent sale in our garage. On the day we moved, for some reason the three tier cake tin (very 1960s retro, had been my mum's) was one thing that I hadn't packed. Being fed up with packing, I looked at with a sigh and thought - "Do we really need cake tins?" Answer - only if you eat cake! So then the question was, of course, "Do we need cake?". Well no, not really, or if one does WANT cake then one can just buy it occasionally, and one hardly needs cake storage tins just for the occasional cake. I know there's nothing like home made cake and I like it as much as the next person, but it's an interesting question isn't it - do we need cake? And guess what, if you don't bake cakes then you can get rid of all your baking tins too!!! Or maybe just keep baking sheets for scones and muffins and fairy cakes. Imagine how much space that would free up in your kitchen! My imagination started to run away with me about all the things we don't really need. Tell me your thoughts on this!

So here we are, back in the house we left nearly 32 years ago.  When we were here before there was a Rayburn in the kitchen and open fire in the sitting room. Now there is oil fired central heating, and an inset woodburning stove has been put in for us. Husband enjoyed the man thing of lighting it for the first time....  Oh and we also have double glazed PVC windows, which I hate on principal (I believe that you can get wooden ones that are just as good and they'd be more environmentally friendly) but they are fantastic at keeping out the draughts. I have always been amazed too at how they keep out all sound. I first realized this when I used to clean a house nearby where they had been installed. I wondered why you couldn't hear any birds. So here I tend to open a window just to hear the sound of outside. In our old house you could hear the birds and the wind and horses clip clopping up the hill without needing to do that!

Although we lived here before I had forgotten how light it is compared to our old house. It faces south, whereas our old house faced west. We thought we might find it a huge wrench leaving the house we'd lived in for so long, but in fact we both loved it here immediately and were glad we made the move. Although we are only a mile away and I have been along a lot of the footpaths round here before there are lots of different circuits we can do for walks, so it actually seems like a whole new area. Having said that, I peeped in at our old garden the other day, and did feel a bit sad when I thought of our children playing in it, and all the parties they'd had there. The house is now for sale, and is described as a "dream cottage"!!!!! It will no doubt be bought by someone very rich who will get rid of the draughty windows and put in central heating and do some very major alterations and extensions. I'd like to be there to say "No, don't do that, do this!" I used to dream about how I'd alter it if it was ours. Letting go.....

Husband chainsawed down seven huge conifers at the bottom of our new garden, which obstructed the view beyond. I have pruned several of the overgrown bushes and pulled lots of ivy out of the front border. I think I'd completely lost my gardening mojo in the old house - recently I had done less than when we had all four children at home - so it's lovely to get it back! 

Before we moved, I was browsing in my favourite charity shop in Wantage, which regularly gets sewing machines in, and saw a Singer 201 in a table. It was one of the brown ones so anyone who knows their 201s will know that that means it's the "new" shape. I have actually already got a "portable" one, which I bought a few years ago in fantastic condition, and have also got a treadle 201, but I quite fancied doing up another one, as you do once you've got the bug.... The table had been painted and the machine inside was filthy and the electrics looked as if they would need replacing. It was £50 and then got reduced to £30, but I resisted the temptation. Last week it was still there!

However, while browsing again just before we moved, they had another 201, but this time in black, again in the new shape, and in a nicer table and in better condition. I asked them to hold it for me and meanwhile off I went to the library with the serial number to do some googling. Apparently the black ones in the new shape are more sought after than the brown ones, and as it was in a table I thought that although I have acquired (free) a smaller table for my sewing it might be even more useful to have a machine in its own table.

So I bought it and here it is after cleaning.

It is in good condition, including the decals, and all it really needed was a good clean. Everything had moved OK when I turned the wheel in the shop.

I took off - the faceplate, the tension mechanism, the bobbin case, the foot and the feed dogs, the handwheel, the bobbin winder and also the tension discs that you use when winding the bobbin, the gear covers underneath, the plate at the back that opens to reveal the inside, and the stitch length mechanism. I read recently of someone else who refurbishes old machines who does one bit of the machine at a time, so that she doesn't have too many bits off the head at one time, thus risking not remembering where everything goes. But I prefer to take everything off at once, and the way I remember what everything is and where it goes is to wrap up the parts and screws for each bit and label them, and put them into those little plastic bags of the type that come with spare buttons in (I save them!).

The inside of the head had quite a lot of grease in, in places where you wouldn't expect it to be. My method of cleaning was to take the head outside and spray it inside with a mixture of paraffin and sewing machine oil, which is recommended in the files of the Yahoo Vintage Singer Group that I'm a member of. I left it overnight and cleaned off as much of the dirt and old grease as I could the next day with a brush and cloths.

The small parts I had put to soak in jars of paraffin, and cleaned them off afterwards with old cloths, scraping away at fiddly bits with a screwdriver wrapped in cloth. Bigger bits, like the faceplate, I cleaned with Autosol metal cleaner. I also used this on the outside of the head and it's done a pretty good job.

The task of putting it all back together was a trifle daunting, even though I've done it before. I have memories of taking things apart when I was young and not being able to get them back together! Fortunately labelling everything helps, and where I did get stuck, with the tension mechanism, it was because I had a piece the wrong way round, but with the help of the manual and a useful blog - useful for many old Singer things, but in particular for telling you all about the 201's tension mechanism - I got it all back together and working. The photos on the blog are really clear and I find the text easy to understand.

Anyway I got it back together. Now for the electrics. These do need replacing, and while I dare say I could do it, it would take me ages to teach myself how, and be certain that I wasn't doing something dangerously wrong, and so I am going to have it done by a professional, in this case Tom Dilley  in Swindon. Once it's done I'll have to decide which of my two electric 201s is the more useful to me, this one or the table top one, and thus which I am going to keep.

Below is the table, a "library" table, that the machine came in. They came in different woods and I've yet to find out which wood mine is.

Meanwhile, I have decided that the treadle 201 will have to go. I bought this a couple of years ago and got it cleaned and running well. I liked the idea of using a treadle machine - having both hands free but not using electricity, but I have now decided that that isn't going to happen. If we had the space we had in the old house I would have kept it, but here there isn't room along with the electric Singer 201 and Bernina 801, so it has to go. I'll be putting it on Ebay once I've re-oiled it and taken some decent photos. (So if you're interested......) I bought it from its original owner, a Latvian lady in High Wycombe, who had lived in Glasgow and whose husband bought it new for her in the 1940s.

And a bit more on sewing machines.  Before we moved I had a good think about which ones I wanted to keep, knowing we hadn't got the space in our new house to keep ones I wasn't going to use, and I gave away my great-grandmother's Jones Family CS machine on Freegle. I wasn't using it and as neither of my daughters wanted it I thought it better to give it to someone who would use it. The lady who collected it was giving it to her daughter. I also sold the Featherweight that I had bought on Gumtree a few years ago and had never got round to refurbishing. I decided that I was never really going to use it in preference to my other machines so the best thing was to sell it. 

So the machines I am keeping are - one of the two electric Singer 201s, my Bernina 801, and a hand cranked Singer 66, which I had originally got free (by asking on what was then Freecycle) and refurbished. I definitely wanted to keep a hand cranked machine and I kept this latter one in preference to the Jones as that was a long bobbin model, whereas the 66 uses the same bobbins as my other Singers. 

Here's my new sewing space, a mere corner of a room instead of a whole room as I had before! I do also have space upstairs as well (in the tiny bedroom that 33 years ago housed our firstborn) to store fabric. But it works very well, and what I love about it is being able to see out of the front window onto the road so I can keep an eye on the comings and goings of the neighbours or whoever else passes by. The cat is quite at home in her new surroundings and has made that spot on the windowsill hers, and is coping very well with the neighbouring cats, of which there are at least 6 within 50 yards or so. She's not as fat as she looks in the photo - she's actually quite small!

And now on a different subject, that of books. Brenda, of Cycling in the Sixth Decade, kindly sent to me the three books below on the left. The one on the right is a library book. They are exactly my sort of reading matter and I have now nearly finished all three. Others who have read them have left their names in the front. I think this is a great idea - it's like Bookcrossing I suppose which I have heard of but never participated in. So here's the offer - only to UK residents I'm afraid - if you think you'd like to be next to read these three books then leave a comment saying so and I'll pick someone to send them to next. I haven't got thousands of readers so you stand a good chance of getting them!

Till next time......