Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Little Scrubber

In the quest to be more and more self-sufficient, including the use of discarded materials, I never thought I'd come to this point.

Knitting pot-scrubbers.

It's right up there with washing out zip lock bags.  Wait, I do that, too - often rescuing them from work colleagues as they stand poised over the garbage bin.  *sigh*

Anyway, these are great little scrubbers - harsh enough to move cooked on stuff, but kind on enamel and non-stick pans.  We still use steel wool on the cast-iron if it needs it, though.

The pattern is Ravelled and appears on Berlin Whimsy's blog. She gives instructions for repurposing tulle into yarn for this project.

I've modified it a bit.  I use smaller needles to get a firmer scrubbie, knit it an inch shorter and use up the ends of rolls of knitting nylon that appear cheaply in op shops rather than cutting up tulle (although there's some mosquito netting just begging to be repurposed lying around here somewhere).

Using two strands of the knitting nylon and one strand of 8ply (or thereabouts) cotton and 5mm needles, cast on 15 stitches.  Garter stitch until work measures 10cm.  Cast off.  Sewing in the ends one strand at a time.

Not pleasant knitting, but quick and practical.  I use up little ends of reels and don't worry too much about colour matching - they scrub pots, they aren't art.

As a rule of thumb, you'll need three - one on, one in the wash and one in the drawer.

Oh, and don't knit them in public and wax lyrical about them if you don't want to spend the rest of your life knitting them in quantity for everyone you know and their Mums.  If you make that mistake, the going rate is a large soy latte and/or the sugar free berry muffin from that little shop around the corner - just so's you know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seven Things Week 3

I've been thinking about appraisal criteria this week.  As an archivist, appraisal for collection is part of my job and is ingrained.  In archives there are a few guidelines for keeping things - legal reasons, administrative reasons and the nebulous "historical" category.  The historical category is a bit of a catchall because not everything is necessary to keep, but the unecessary can be useful.  I tell my clients that apart from the legal and administrative records, you need to keep just enough to tell your story.

So what is my story? It's largely pragmatic with a smidge and a half of sentiment thrown in.

TSS uses the  William Morris "is it useful and/or beautiful" criteria.  We both agree that if we don't feel joy when looking at it, holding it or thinking about it, it is probably ripe for decluttering.  So keepers fill me joy, intense sentimentality or wry remembering or are just useful. It would be great if all my stuff filled me with joy etc., but I don't feel that way about the breadmaker. It's just useful.

Sometimes the useless and hideous are kept for sentimental reasons and that's fine.  I don't have a souvenir box as some declutterers do, but I do acknowledge that some things are just awful but meaningful. As we move through the weeks of the challenge, though, I know that I'll have to assess some "sentimental" things more harshly and develop some other criteria for retention. 

I'm beginning this process even now by applying an economic formula - if I had to pay to store it or move it would it be worth it? and a bit of emotional blackmail - If I hang on to it "just-in-case" am I depriving someone else of something they could use or need?  Would it bring more joy to someone else?

We've had a very bus.y week, with several unexpected family commitments (and the jam), so outs are not greater than ins, but we're still on track
  • 16 jars - donations from a colleague of TOF's who know we be jammin' - GIFT
  • 10 Tupperware lids - ordered to fit some bargain buys without seals - PURCHASE
  • 1 DVD - TOF got a TV series at a garage sale $6
  • 1 pair boots  - new Blundstone safety boots for TOF at garage saled $10
  • 1 book, novella bought last week read and released - OP SHOP
  • 1 pair jeans with truly scary sparkly bits on - OP SHOP
  • 1 lipstick holder - OP SHOP
  • 2 glass jars (nearly done with rehousing the buttons) - OP SHOP
  • 1 bottle (contained our red wine vinegar) - GIFT
  • 1 deceased watch band - BIN
  • 1 ex-battery pack thing - BIN
  • 2 vases - GIFT
  • 39 jars cherry sauce and jam
  • 7 bottles preserved cherries
IN 28
OUT 10


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cherry on top

A family funeral in Harden this week was an unexpected bonus. 

"Hard-hearted wench", I hear you cry - but not so.  It was a sad occasion but it was also a chance for the family to catch up and that's not bad at all.

And, as Bob Hudson so memorably said in the Aussie classic, The Newcastle Song, "Don't you ever let a chance go by, O Lord, don't you ever let a chance go by".*

So we left early and overshot Harden by less than 10 minutes to make it to Petal Falls Orchard and load the car with cherries.  When I say load, I mean 30 kilos of first quality at $5 a kilo for family and friends, and 10k of second quality at $2 for us for jam and sauce.  And a cherry pie for Junior.

It is still early in the season, so the fruit isn't quite at √≠ts best, but we weren't sure we'd have time for another cherry run this year.  We spent two evenings pitting the 10 kilos of seconds in preparation for jam and sauce and we Friday night and most of Saturday performing the alchemy of preservation.

4 kilos went to jam and 5 kilos went to sauce, the other kilo mysteriously disappeared (some spoilage, some noms).  We also processed another 4 kilos in preserving jars, poached some for breakfast and had some with icecream.

Any basic jam recipe is fine, such as this from Taste.com.au. I doubled the mix each time and added the juice of a lime and a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon.  I also forgot to double the Jam Setta, so it took a couple of hours to reach setting point, but that's ok.  For cherries, you really do need the added pectin.

The sauce recipe is one we trialled last year.  I call it Cherry Christmas Sauce.  Also from Taste.com.au, we substituted cherries for cranberries.  While the recipe is billed as a jam, this stuff won't set and we've found it great as a saucy ingredient in main meals.  I'll write up what we've done with pork belly, lamb mince and kangaroo fillets another time, but it's well worth the cherries.

And jewels for the store cupboard - 5 small jars of preserved cherries, 1 large jar of preserved cherries in port and another of preserved cherries in brandy.  We've got dessert for Chrismas sorted, anyway.

*if anyone has access to the album this appears on, it also has a song "Librarian Lady" - would love to hear it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seven Things Week 2

It didn't take long for the seven-thing agonising to kick in.

Last time, there were many looooong conversations with TSS about what constitutes an in or an out and just how creative counting could be.

Last week, was my diary insert an in?  If it is, then the old one is an out.  What about the bonus note paper that came with the insert, and the little plastic stamp holdery thing and the lovely leather bookmark? - all bonus gifts.

It doesn't really do to overthink these things.  The spirit of the challenge is to acquire less and let go of more.  I need the diary insert, it's definitely consumable and it cancels out anyway - it's not counted.  I don't need the note paper, the plastic stamp holdery thing or the book mark and if I did need them I could have made or readily improvised them from materials around the house- they are counted in.

Although TOF agreed that "hiding" things at his house or at the caravan would be wrong, he thought if he bought it, I didn't have to count it.  Nope, that's just sleight of hand.

Stuff that either TOF or I buy for joint use are definitely ins.  The fact that we operate separately and together out of three houses and a caravan (actually 2 caravans but that's another story) makes it logistically difficult but the principle is the same. 


  • 1 electric BBQ hotplate from some caravanning friends who didn't need it anymore - GIFT 
  • 17 books (we went to the local church fete.  Only 4 are really for me, but them's the breaks) - FETE
  • 1 food thermos.  It will fit pies for the footy or soup or stew.  At $10 it will make it's purchase price back in two uses - ONLINE AUCTION
  • 1 knitting magazine - Can't resist Yarn Forward
  • 1 bucket.  Actually it's an old 20 litre paint tin we picked up by the side of the road.  It's better than the little plakky bucket we were using for waste water at the van. - FOUND
  • 1 copper based frying pan which matches the saucepans we took out to the van.  I bought the saucepans at DJs nearly 30 years ago and they've done me proud. $3 TIP SHOP
  •  gift (no peeking) $2 TIP SHOP
  • 20 cuddly toys collected for my favourite Westie breeder and slackly not sent.  Sent now.  - GIFT
  • 4 precious Fowlers' jars lost in an avalanche in the storage area under my house - BIN
  • 13 empty jars/bottles unsuitable for jams or chutneys - BIN
  • 1 mixing bowl another jaralanche casualty - BIN
  • 1 audio book - OP SHOP
  • 1 camera case - OP SHOP
  • 1 CD - OP SHOP
  • 1 man's belt left by the previous owner of our caravan - OP SHOP
  • 6 home decorating books - OP SHOP
  • 1 cheap plastic container that probably arrived in a bulk lot of something else - OP SHOP
  • 1 vintage Tupperware milkshake maker (we don't need 3) - OP SHOP
  • 1 computer mouse (dead) - BIN
  • 1 telephone headset (dead) - BIN
  • 12 tshirts and shirts.  The summer stuff came out of the bag and these didn't make it into the wardrobe.  They were hand-me-downs or ill thought out bargain purchases from the op shop, so they can return - OP SHOP
  • 2 Tupperware sandwich boxes - OP SHOP
  • 1 thermos, came as  freebie and is replaced by our schmick new food thermos  - OP SHOP
  • 3 cheapo measuring cups - OP SHOP
  • 2 "green bags" - OP SHOP
  • 1 glass jar - the button boodle continues its migration to Tupperware as suitable sizes are unearthed - OP SHOP
  • 22 cook books.  - OP SHOP
  • 4 lots wool and fibre - GIFT
  • 2 prs trousers - 1 to the bin, 1 to the OP SHOP
  • 2 shirts - wrong size for TOF, wrong fabric for repurposing - OP SHOP
  • 1 coffee pot and 1 tea pot.  Even though I love these vintage Crown Corning pieces, they are totally unnecessary. - OP SHOP
  • 2 Tupperware salt/pepper shakers.  We have enough and prefer the grinders anyway.  OP SHOP
  • 3 novels.  Read and not part of the permanent collection - OP SHOP
  • 2 pairs socks - all knitted and the ends sewn in - will blog them later.
  • 2 knitted pot scrubbers - ditto

    IN   23
    OUT 111
    NETT OUT 88

    SIAA 4

Monday is washing day

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Terriers Toil on Tea Towels

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for vintage linens, hand-embroidery, second-hand bargains and Westies (and Scotties). 

It would take a woman of more will-power than I to resist a combination of all of them.

Last Sunday at the R-Shop (Mitchell Waste Transfer Station), I spied this in a rummage box.

Sweet vintage hand-embroidered and cro***ed tea towel.  It's 30 inches wide and 28 inches long.  Crocheted on the bottom long edge only.

The worker of this was not an expert needle-woman.  The towel is selvedge to selvedge and machine hemmed on the top and bottom.  I assume she cut a 30 inch square of the fabric which is lightweight and unevenly woven. Mum says she'd seen nappies made out of it in her childhood.  You'd be constantly changing nappies made of this stuff, it's so thin.  The scalloped cro***et on the bottom is, even to my eye, unevenly executed.  The back of the embroidery is reasonably neat (always a test of needle-skill according to my mother when she repeatedly had me unpick mine at an early age).

I was delighted to find it and clutched it to my chest.  All TOF would say was "you know you want it".  He's a lovely man, but does nothing for my won't-power.

Imagine, then, my glee, when another browser said "Here, lady" and thrust a further 6 of them into my hands.  "Dunno what they are, but you seem to like them" he continued gruffly.

Sweet frugalling angels!  It was a Monday-Sunday set of hand worked teatowels and mine for the princely sum of $5 which included all our other purchases (Bodum ice bucket, Tupperware, jam jar, cricket ball for the kids).

I spent the evening wondering if I could transform them into anything.  Skirts, cushions, summer frock?  Then, laying them out together, it struck me - the most perfect cafe curtain, ever.

So each day for the next week, I'll post the toiling terriers and show you the finished curtain (eventually).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seven Things Week 1

Thanks for the encouraging comments, emails and 'phone calls.  Apparently some people find other people's junk fascinating - hang on, I find othe people's junk fascinating, that's the problem.  Ah well, entertainment coming and going.  For those of you joining in - GOOD LUCK!

The first week of the challenge is always easy.  There's a top layer of stuff that's begging for decluttering.  The only difficulty in the first week or so is getting it out of the house quickly enough and finding containers to put them in.

The stash of shop bags etc. went early in the last challenge and as we don't buy much retail and most groceries and op-shop items go into re-usable shopping bags, there's always a scramble to find suitable receptacles.  I'm starting with the so-called "green" bags that are inconveniently shaped for grocery shopping.  If we need more shopping bags, I can make them from fabric in the stash.

Also, even after the post about the pavers and the trailer during the week, I didn't reckon on the effect equipping and improving the caravan will have on this challenge.

We spent yesterday writing Very Long Lists (fear my lists!) of our immediate, short, medium and long-term plans for the van and what that would require.  I'm going to have to be particularly tough on the "outs" to accommodate the "ins" for the van.

  • 1 leather bookmark, 1 plastic stamp holder thing and 1 set note paper for my diary - I won a giveaway of a PocoProfile diary refill off TSS's blog.  The lovely Victoria included these things as bonuses.  - GIFT
  • 15 besser blocks (for work at the caravan) - TIP SHOP
  • 1 Bodum ice bucket (for the caravan - wine gets warm too quickly) - TIP  SHOP
  • 1 jar (for this season's jams and preserves) - TIP SHOP
  • 1 Tupperware container and extra seal - TIP SHOP
  • 1 set vintage hand-embroidered tea towels, totally unnecessary, but wait until you see them! - TIP SHOP
  • 1 vintage letter holder - OP SHOP
  • 6 glass jars - these held some of the buttons boodle. The buttons they contained are now in Tupperware which nest better, take up less space and break with less disastrous results when dropped on timber floors. *sigh* - OP SHOP
  • 1 bowl - OP SHOP
  • 1 Tupperware mixing jug (we don't need 3) - OP SHOP
  • 7 books - OP SHOP
  • 13 specimen vases.  Collection of tiny cut glass and crystal vases - OP SHOP
  • 2 "green" bags - OP SHOP
  • 8 teaspoons - GIFT
  • 5 knives - GIFT
  • 6 forks - GIFT
  • 4 dessert spoons (all cutlery donated to our workplace tea-room. There are never enough clean spoons or forks - the knives are a bonus) - GIFT
  • 1 teabag holder (my brother's MIL collects Royal Albert Old Country Roses - she gets this melamine teabag holder I picked up at Vinnies' a while back) - GIFT
  • 1 three-hole punch (new in box and has been for 16 years. It's going to work where it will be used) - GIFT
  • 1 large bundle copy sheet protectors going to work, we use a lot of them and the budget is tight - GIFT
  • 1 ream copy paper, also going to work - GIFT
  • 1 microwave oven (not needed in the caravan) - DONATION
  • 4 headbands uncovered in an avalanche from TOF's bookcase - we don't really know how they got their either - OP SHOP

  • 6 padded coathangers - STASH

IN  23
OUT 63


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Warm reception

We have internet access out at the carvan - the mobile dongle thing works.  Woot!

We've spent our first night at the van and I've spent the whole morning writing lists of things we need to do and equipment we need to have.

Most of the equipment etc. we can bring from home.  Some of the things we need to do will take more time and more resources.  If anyone has a good double mattress they don't need, for example, do get in touch.

As usual, we are re-using as much as possible (see previous post on pavers).  No photos today, but I'll be documenting our progress.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hang 'em high

Sometime in the late 1980s I started padding coathangers.  Not the nylon lace knitted covers so beloved of my grandmother, but an improvisation on what was to hand.

I needed a wider hanger as my clothes were wider than most.  I needed a way to avoid the horrid "angel wing" effect of coathangers on clothes, I wanted delicate fabrics to maintain their shape and I needed to be able to do it for nothing or next to nothing.

So not much has changed, really.

I came up with a way of using materials readily available - wire coathangers available for free from clothes shops and the shoulder pads that were on the wane fashion-wise and available cheaply (or occasionally free) from op-shops.

The best shoulder pads to use are the fat, shoulder-shaped raglan pads.  If there is velcro attached, so much the better for gripability.

A pad is folded over the end of the wire coathanger and whip stitched into placed.  For extra width allow the padding to extend the hanger 1/4 to 1/3 the length of the pad. 

 To help the pad stay in place, stitch through the pad around the metal end.

On these hangers, I can hang wet shirts in woven or jersey fabrics to dry in small spaces and after ironing, rehang them to preserve the shape - no "angel wings" on my tops.

This week, I found a bag of raglan shoulder pads rescued from an op-shop. I whipped up six padded hangers using the last of the shoulder pad stash.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Just as well I started seven things on Monday or we'd have had to count these.

Something like 500-600 pavers we bought and moved in a storm on Saturday and in warm weather on Sunday.

Did I tell you we bought a caravan?  No?  Well, we bought a secondhand van in June.  It's on site outside town on a bush block.  We want to pave around the van to make a kind of patio and as the budget is non-existent, we're picking up second-hand materials when and where we can.

The two trailer loads on the weekend, and a load a few weeks back, came from Tiny's Green Shed at the Mugga Lane Tip.  We love Tiny's.  It's a second-hand shopper's delight.

A casualty of the second load, though, was a tyre on the trailer.  Once we'd unloaded, TOF unbolted the wheel and we left the trailer with the van.

We have a summer of paving to look forward to.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

De ja vu

The clutter has been creeping back in. OK, it's been arriving by the gleeful armload up the front stairs and I'm not all that sorry.

Earthchick (blog now non-existent) started the Seven Things Project in July 2006. Her goal was to try and live more simply - to have less and more importantly to want less; to rid herself of the clutter that overwhelms and paralyses.  Her method was to rid her life of seven things each week. 

I'm not paralysed yet, but getting a little overwhelmed so the de-clutter bug has re-introduced into my system.  Also, I have clean out under Mum's house.  We never got around to it after Dad died, but this summer is the go. 

So we're seven-thinging again at Taph Towers. TOF will keep me honest - I'm not allowed to hide anything at his place or in our caravan. Of course, that means anything I cull in those places counts to the total, so it's all good. :)

For the uninitiated, I did two Seven Things Challenges in 2007. 6 weeks in Winter 2007, then 78 weeks from 1 Sept 2007-Feb 2009.  5,126 items (nett) left the house in those two challenges.
As before items will be thoughtfully dealt with. Just throwing stuff out isn't part of the deal. Mindful consumption and thoughtful disposal are tenets of this particular faith.

I will report each Monday in three categories :"In", "Out" and"Shake-it-All-About". The aim is that "Out" minus "In" will be greater than or equal to 7.  I'll keep it up through Summer and see how we go from there. 

The stuff I bring in to our homes. This includes:
  • stash items of ANY kind
  • other forms of entertainment such as books, magazines, cds etc.
  • items received by subscription, for example, magazines
  • clothes and accessories
  • homewares
  • gifts received
Exempt are consumables such as food and other groceries and items borrowed from the library (but not items borrowed from the library and copied for keeping because that is (a) illegal and (b) not in the spirit of the challenge).

Items deliberately weeded from the houses. Consumables do not count. Completely worn out and non-fixable/transformable clothing, household items etc do.  I will try and repurpose before I give it away, but in the main, if it's clothing that is still wearable, just too big/small etc, I'll give it to the women's refuge or op-shop rather than cut it up.

This category is about transformation. After the first challenge I realised it is important to acknowledge the creative transformation of items already in the home. It might be as simple as the use of stash buttons on an old blouse to revamp it instead of buying a new blouse or other transformation of clothes. It might be the creation of something new for ourselves or others from stash. I have much sewing to do just now, mending and curtain making being the most pressing.  Some items from this category will become "outs" which is perfectly fine.  Maybe I'll include a "use it up" section to account for stash.  Dunno, I'll think about it.

So check back next Monday for an update.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Got my invitation to the Craft ACT Christmas event. 

Went squee to see Olivia's baubles featured on the invitations.

Double squee then, that they are on the website, too.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Truly local yarn soon

Lifted from the latest Poacher's Way newsletter, Spring 2010.

Eco sustainable wool mill on horizon for Bowning - Crisp Galleries

These are exciting times for the Crisp family, with the recent announcement that their historic ‘Gwandoban’ shearing shed (circa 1856 and moved from Harden to Binalong in 1914, then to Bowning eight years ago) will be rebuilt to house the new Yass Valley Woollen Mill, in conjunction with the Armour family, of Bookham.

With a majority of Australia’s woollen mills closed, and China now processing 82% of the world’s wool production, the Yass Valley Woollen Mill is set to become Australia’s premier processor of superfine wool.

The ‘mission’ of The Yass Valley Woollen Mill is to produce an Australian grown and made, eco sustainable yarn and fabric that can be totally transparent along the supply chain.

Between them, the Crisps and the Armours have a vision to create not only a productive and sustainable mill but also a valuable tourist and educational facility. The ‘great hall’ which runs the length of the 50m building will be transformed into a viewing room, with retail space selling products created with Yass Valley yarn.

The Yass Valley Woollen Mill is a serious commitment to the wool industry to ensure its sustainability into the future.

CAN'T WAIT! - Read the full press release on the Crisp Galleries website.