Friday, 28 October 2011

Two right legs!

Today has not gone according to plan. I had two part-finished brooches - I stopped sewing when, the monotony of Question Time having sent me to sleep- whilst stitching 'on auto', I stabbed my thumb - very purposefully. I got up quite early - finish brooches, list, find driving instructor for son, go for a walk...... All sounded quite pleasant. Tried to check my blog etc to find that my account was disabled, due it now appears to 'disallowed' info in my profile. I have now fixed it - thankfully. The route was - send request to Google for clarification - their message terminating my account did not explain why. They then reinstated my account and 'replaced' this blog - otherwise removed. Only then, when checking my profile - on the advice of a forum contributor, did I find the detailed message explaining the problem and the remedy. The message I could only access through the Google account from which I was suspended!! That old song about 'the gas man cometh' comes to mind. Anyway I'm here now- sssshhh! - (touches wood!)

Whilst trying to find forum help for my on-line woes, using computer in room next to the kitchen - there was a slight rumble and muted 'crash' of a glass-sounding variety. I peered in and blamed precarious stack in the sink - too many on-line worries to get to tidy up! A little while later there was another ominous rumble - a bit like an after-shock - I ignored that one I'd had enough for one day. Daughter offered me a coffee - opened the cupboard to find jar - heap on cupboard floor due to collapsed shelf - just laughed - you do in the end!

Persuaded son to leave computer games and go for a healthy walk in the sun. Pretty wet round here so put gaiters on. His chosen route took us through a wetland area - path runs on board walks. The estate is largely disused now and the paths are not maintained. The nettle stalks were almost like tree trunks. At least  I was only nettled (all be it thoroughly) from the knees upward - due to gaiters.

They are not without blemish though. Our supermarket does a good range of budget out-door stuff - most of which is very serviceable. I had used a pair of gaiters on many occasions and the zip eventually broke. I decided it was my fault for attempting to fasten them over an unreasonable amount of dried mud. Went to replace them - got to checkout - no bar code. Summoned assistant went to check. Swapped them for another pair, with barcode - I was surprised - had only seen one pair on shelf. Got home - waterproof trousers in bag instead of gaiters. Took them back! Checked content of new bag - yep - gaiters!

Couple of weeks later, whilst camping - needed gaiters. Couldn't quite work out what was wrong with 'left one' - see blog title.......

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Just as well I didn't list them on ebay!

... Papercraft tools have been re-purposed to help with the production of LynwoodChums embroidered keyrings.

Our storage crisis and 'do I really need to keep.......?' debate continues. We have just bought some sturdy metal (hopefully mouse-proof) storage cupboards for the garage. My husband spent a tiring Saturday moving the two freezers and three 'ex-wardrobes' already in place. Together with the strong racking system- paint, varnishes, wood preservatives etc, and the slightly less strong (well OK - pretty rickety really) shelves for plastic plant pots, they were all re-positioned according to a cunning plan mapped out on graph paper. The new cupboards are intended to store out tents and similar camping equipment. Each of our children has two tents( one expedition and one general purpose), then we have one cheap two man - previously athletics spectators' den/changing room - now outdoor furniture store when taking camper van 'off-site'. We also have our large family tents, the original slightly battered 8 man and the newer huge central space, 4 large bedrooms and porch, newer 8 man. Then there are the 3 man and 4 man for short weekends where we couldn't face the effort required for an 8 man........

My craft room follows the same pattern. I still have tools and supplies left over from the papercrafts which I specialised in when the children were young. Too good to throw away, I had thought of putting them up for sale.

I suddenly realised that the circle-cutter I have will cut the plastic circles with which I reinforce my keyring fob and some brooches. I had been using the templates from my shape-cutter-system for both ovals and circles, but as stencils and I had then been cutting the shapes with scissors or knives. Silly me. The supplied cutting tool, used with the templates, also cuts the plastic. Yet again, I confirm my belief that disposing of 'stuff' is a mistake. Our storage crisis continues!

This Embroidered Christmas Keyring is the latest item to benefit from the use of the circle cutter:

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The 'two toed method' works best...

.....if you have walking boots on! Sweet chestnuts, acorns, and pine cones - inspiration for cooking and embroidery.

Our campervan needed an outing. Its battery needed charging and its not a good idea to leave it for too long on the same patch of tyre and without wearing the accumulating layer of rust from the brakes. We only had a few hours to spare and neither our son or daughter wanted to come with us. We mentally drew a thirty minute radius around home and decided upon Delamere Forest.

We had intended to walk, but our stroll was seriously curtailed by the abundance of sweet chestnuts on the forest floor. Most of the cases were still resolutely closed. My husband was muttering and 'Ow-ing' and couldn't understand how I was managing. The technique, perfected during many happy autumns gathering conkers, is to put your toes together on top of the case and, gently, press down and drag your feet apart slightly. It works better on a hard surface but I am something of an expert in these matters , and I managed. Goodness knows how my husband spent his childhood autumns! The wild chetsnuts are smaller than the ones in the supermarket and, therefore, more fiddly and time-consuming to shell - but FREE!

Two years ago, when the van was new to us, we camped in the forest during autumn half-term and gathered chestnuts - everything seems early this year and I thought we would have missed them. When we were camping we pan-fried medallions of pork cut from tenderloin. Leeks, apples from our garden, and the chestnuts were added. Creme fraiche was stirred in before serving. We have our holidays in a plastic box on wheels but there is no reason not to eat well. These chestnuts will be split between a venison stew and  a repeat of the pork tenderloin.

There were also numerous acorns on the ground - I've often wished I could think of a use for them. This year my Brownies made little creature from horse chestnuts, acorns, pine cones and beech nut cases - held together with white tack.

This embroidered brooch featuring acorns, is available from Lynwoodcrafts at Folksy (click the image to see the brooch on its shelf!)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I need to improve my marketing skills

Embroidered brooches, and other embroidered accessories, are available from

I have chosen to feature a representative sample of the items which I produce. Unfortunately, I find that I am letting the store down by poor promotion. I know how to 'announce new additions' to other stores at on-line market places. The forums are great. Wonderful sellers support each other and items are viewed and commented upon. Craft Juice postings tend to attract votes from fellow sellers on the same selling site and Facebook and Google + seem to play their part in attracting visits.

When I list new items to my website, I make the usual announcement on Facebook and Google+ and submit to Craft Juice and yet I do not seem able to generate the viewings which I would like to achieve. I do not intend to 'go it alone' entirely and would prefer to keep my website alongside other trading platforms. I would not dream of spamming forums etc at my other selling sites with links to my website and I carefully observe Flickr's rules about non-commercial use only.

Any suggestions which you might have regarding ethical promotion routes for my website would be very greatly appreciated. I am not, generally, an 'in-your-face' sort of a person, and I detest Spam.

These are the latest items to be listed:

Thank you for your help!


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

I expected to be inspired by...

... the new series - 'River Cottage Veg'.

To some extent I was inspired, but I was also left feeling a little disappointed. The various other series from River Cottage have been great. I love the whole ethos of Hugh's way of life - sustaining his family, providing employment and encouraging more of us to adopt as many of his ways as are practical, all without great compromise to his ideals.

I have been finding myself increasingly confused as to the relative merits of the various 'purchasing criteria' which I have tried to employ. Our family budget is very limited - but that is not really the point. The money we spend might not make much difference to the world, but I still want to feel good about our choices. I have supported 'organic production' since our first opportunities. We do not have a local organic shop and have bought organic lines at our supermarket. That goes against the grain since I do not like the dominance of the huge chains and the influence they have and I am finding the number of organic lines shrinking of late, not a behaviour I wish to support.

There is a lovely wholefood cooperative about 40 mins away. I visit a few times a year and stock up when I go but can't justify the mileage on a frequent basis. I use our local farm shop more and more. A family business with a great reputation - lamb and beef are their own, pork and, in season, venison are local. Unfortunately they don't supply everything we need.

We have two small greenhouses (peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, early salad and strawberries) and a small veg patch. Great but we don't spend enough time on it to maximise output and I end up with 'storage dilemmas'. How in a modern world do I 'preserve' (in the widest sense) food for out of season use without using too much power in refrigeration,given that we don't want too many jams and chutneys.

Then the choice between meat and no meat. I understand many reasons why it is probably desirable for the world's population to eat less meat. I enjoy meat and would find it hard to give it up completely. I always try to make sure it is ethically produced with high welfare standards. I also enjoy completely vegetarian meals, often cook them from choice and would be happy to reduce the amount of meat which we eat. I must confess to a long standing concern/confusion over how to provide a balance diet, with few food miles, using seasonal produce whilst living in North Wales. I often throw in cashew nuts, sesame seeds...... all of which should probably be outlawed or used as occasional treats only.

Back to the new River Cottage series. We don't have enough raised beds to feed a small village, or three gardeners to tend them. Neither do we live on the coast, or have the climate of the West Country, and we certainly do not have the land for goats, pigs chickens.... Consequently, we have always had to adapt and select from the River Cottage offerings. I have always been able to enjoy the programs, admiring the  way the business works/family live/other local enterprises are praised and supported etc. With our limited  garden we could not expect to sustain ourselves from our own production even on a meat-free diet. However, I suppose that I had expected that Hugh's meat-free summer would be produced from his own garden and other local sources. It all began well. A wonderful, bright green soup. I was embroidering at the time and my attention might have wandered slightly around the 'ingredients list part' - but I think fresh peas, broadbeans, parsley, spring onions were involved. We grow all of those. A great start - I could do this!

The next item, perhaps in an attempt to persuade us that veggie food is exciting, was a visit to a chef and family who served a wonderful, 'Thai influenced' - in part at least - meal, which included an exotic variety of grapefruit...... here my attention wandered ( I think some of the other ingredients might have been 'exotic') and I could be heard to mutter 'all I can see on that plate is airmiles!!' Hugh's next recipe, I had to pop out to check on our own supper at this point, seemed to depend heavily on cashew nuts. I really like cashews but they don't grow in the UK!

The program continued, back on track, to a wonderful, and inventive veggie barbecue. Exactly the sort of food I had hoped to see.

How do I prioritise/weight my puchasing criteria? Which is worst veggie - but with food-miles, or some meat locally and ethically produced? How close is it possible for a family of four, with high ideals but a limited budget and small garden, to get towards the ideal of a diet 100% organically, locally, ethically produced and seasonally eaten? For the first time in years I'm not too sure exactly what to aim for on a weekly basis.

I did enjoy most of the program though!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Does my bum look big in this?

....I didn't need to ask!

Just to fill you in on the background to my problem. I liked the idea of wearing leggings. I am of average height, size 12-14 (depending on store), have reasonable legs (although calves rather thick) and I am no longer 16 years old!!

I like practical clothes - comfortable and suitable for wearing flat heals. I have recently treated myself to a lovely pair of black ankle boots - which I steadfastly insist on lacing closed, believing that this is the intended purpose of laces, and ignoring my 14 year olds instructions to leave the boots gaping and tuck the laces under my feet. (She'll have a nasty injury one day!). I have black good quality leggings - 'slim' my legs very well. Now what to wear with them?

Those of you who have read a few of my other blog posts will realise that I hate waste and try as hard as possible to recycle. I'm not quite a member of the 'knit your own sandals brigade' - although some of you may beg to differ! I don't 'do fashion' in the sense of 'wear today - landfill tomorrow'. However, I do want to feel happy and comfortable with my appearance. I also dress myself on a very limited budget.

I have one or two knitted dresses and love wearing them - however they are a pain to wash! I prefer separates - more 'outfits' for my money, can adjust numbers of layers (we're still picking strawberries in October!) and I might be able to use some of my existing sweaters. I have recently scoured sales racks for skirts that 'might do' i.e right colours, a little above knee length.....not wanting to spend  too much on an 'experiment'.

My first choice - and the wrong one!!!!! A tiered ra-ra type skirt in black. Right length, good fabric, some lovely stitched detail, comfortable and TIERS IN WRONG PLACE AND FAR TOO FULL, but ready to wear, and I was in a rush. Yes - my bum did look............... (and it was more suitable for a 16 year old). Dashed back from farm shop feeling very foolish. Liked the feel of the leggings now what?

Purchase 2 was a maxi skirt in a bright print on black, cotton mix jersey. Goodness only knows what height heal I would have needed to totter round on to keep it off the floor ( I bought it for the fabric- never intending to wear it as it was!) My solution - chop off bottom portion just above the knee. Re- hem top part - comfortable - quite flattering - bum back to 'not quite small' but much better! Rummage through sweater draw. Thankful to find I hadn't disposed of sleeveless black sweater from last day job (its always a mistake to throw stuff out!). Chopped bottom of sweater below bust (god job sewing machine does stretch stitches), gathered 'lower portion of once long skirt' and stitched the two together. My take on a sweater dress! Worn over a black top with leggings, it's comfortable completely hides my bum, and looks like? Well - me really. I really like it. So does my husband. Daughter just rolled her eyes - but then I had tied my laces! ( and the best bit is that skirt and dress together cost me £10!)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Our 'Autumn' Harvest?

Well actually, they are. I forgot to pick them yesterday - this was today's little collection. I find picking strawberries tedious in summer - we can't fit them into the fruit cage and lifting and replacing the protective netting takes ages. Why don't blackbirds eat them in autumn? Perhaps they just can't quite believe they're real. We usually get a few and then remove the flowers to spare the plants the trouble of producing fruits that won't ripen. This autumn's crop has been heavier than July's. It seems very odd, the leaves are falling off the apple tree, the autumn-harvest pears are nearly ripe and this is our strawberry bed:

and today's harvest:


This is a also a harvest, of a sort:

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

If you were given your lifetime's allocation at birth....

....... how would you spend it?

I'm not talking about money, but about the notion of everyone having their own share of the earth's non-renewable resources. A totally impractical proposition in reality, but as a train of thought it might bring us to totally different choices - very much a practical outcome of its sort.

I don't have an understanding of how much one barrel of oil might provide me in all its various currencies of fuel to plastic carrier bags and I would need a conversion table.

If someone made it simple for me and gave me a quota of road miles, air miles, metres of synthetic fibres, units of electricity, units of gas.............. would it make me think differently. In this mind game, there might be an Exchange at which other folks might offer different parts of their quota in return for an agreed quantity of something of mine. What would be most important to you?

Fairly done, taking into account the number of individuals in the developing world, and the needs of generations to come, you might be sure that your quota would seem terrifyingly small. 'Car share' principles would need to apply to most aspects of our consumption.

Just how many 'airmiles' would we each have? How much of a bargain would that 'cheap getaway', 'out of season' trip actually be if it lead to the consumption of one tenth? on fifth? one quarter?.. of your entire lifetime's allocation.

Our very-close post box has been removed. It used to be a 'dash in my slippers - if not raining' sort of distance. It is now five minutes walk away. It was pouring down when I last needed to post a letter. There is a convenient parking spot and the car momentarily looked attractive. Then I remembered that we are 'saving up' for next year's holiday, when we expect to drive, perhaps to Kent, or maybe, via the ferry to Normandy. My walking boots and waterproof were in the porch anyway...

Simplistic, flawed, pointless ? Simplistic and flawed - certainly. Misguided probably, but, I am trying to question all my choices. The washing machine has finished - a load of towels and its raining and has been on and off for the last two days. I shall have to tumble them, partially at least, now what am I going to save on today to pay for that?