96) Welcome to my kitchen!

We are currently having our kitchen refitted.  J and I spent last Sunday packing all the pots, pans, tins and dry goods into boxes, which are now living in the garage.  (The boxes normally hold yarn.  My yarn is currently living in black bin bags, in my studio.)  Oh, and moving the two fridges, the washer/dryer and the dishwasher out of the kitchen and into temporary homes.

Tear-out started Monday; I didn’t take any ‘before’ pictures, though I think J did, but on Monday evening, it all looked like this:

The ceiling is down because we need a new, non-saggy one installed; we won’t be living with exposed beams in this house!  That yellow colour is the paint we’ve had on our kitchen walls since we moved in; the strange, plaster-brown colour between the yellow areas and the white shadows of the original units is the original wallpaper.  It’s very odd stuff; marbled beige:

Especially when you consider that this was the original colour of the floor:

Baby-poop brown, anyone?  What an appealing kitchen!  Oh – those two buckets?  In this shot, they are supporting/protecting that copper pipe which is running past them.  That is a gas pipe.  Nearly three metres of it, and completely unsupported.  (Hint: not safe).

As of today, Saturday, the new ceiling is in (complete with lights), the re-wiring has been done, the gas pipe is re-routed and safe, and the new floor is in:

Diagonals!!  I’m hoping that this gives the kitchen, which is otherwise small, and quite plain, a bit of zip and zing.  There’s a risk it’s going to be overwhelming, but, like a feature carpet in a small hallway, I’m hoping it’ll work.

Ahh, yes.  The re-wiring.  Building regulations change so often round here that it seems quite normal for the original electrics to be ‘illegal’ when you come to redecorate.  Sometimes, you’re allowed to leave them as they are, sometimes not.   There is now a law that says that electrical sockets can’t be within a certain distance of a sink – fair enough, but this is quite a long distance, and this is not a large kitchen.  So a fair few sockets have had to move, and we are waiting for the plaster to dry so we can paint.  It’s the thick bits of plaster we’re still waiting for; the bits, in fact, that fill in the old sockets.

It seems obvious to me that paint should go on before the new units go in (and, ideally, before the new floor goes down, but hey ho).  Kitchen fitters in general seem to think that this is a bit crazy, and I’m starting to realise that this is because they would have to down tools and wait for the plaster to dry, then the paint, before continuing.  Which, if you’re trying to fit a maximum number of jobs into a minimum amount of time, is clearly not user friendly.  On the other hand: I’m still right.  Paint first is *clearly* better.

J and I are hoping to do most of the painting this weekend.  Wish us luck.

27) Purple patch

Yesterday was an awesome postal day.  I received my awesome new spindle (a Natalie silk spindle in purpleheart wood), and not one, but two wonderful batts from Franquemont Fibers – also in shades of purple.  Oddly, these were both ordered, from the US, exactly a month apart.  Customs have been holding my little spindle hostage!


Notice anything odd about the photo above?  One spindle, two batts, and… a plughole?!  Yes.  J's Dad is currently staying with us, and the boys are, together, refitting our whole bathroom; floor to ceiling, suite to walls.  This has at least something to do with the sheer overwhelm I've been feeling recently, as well as the lack of fiber-y activity, because my studio is out-of-bounds and the living room is full of boxes and tools.  Using the new sink as a photographical background was just a whimsy, really, but in terms of colour and lighting, it's one of the best I've ever taken.  A bit of vignetting from the curve of the bowl, and an errant highlight over to the left, but otherwise… move over, lightboxes!

Anyway, you can't leave a new spindle unchristened, and indeed, Natalie came with a little pouf of rayon/tussah fibre, according to the note slipped into the box.  I can tell that Natalie and I are going to be friends, because this was the result:


Around two metres of two-ply, around fingering weight.  We played together well right from the start; she spins fast, though not particularly long, and I might have to learn to draft faster to keep up, but I can see how she will be perfect for spinning long-staple fibre into high-twist yarns, just as advertised.


This was my first time spinning anything with rayon in it, and it definitely changed the character of the tussah (which I have spun with quite a bit).  It felt crunchy and squeaky, rather than soft and fluid, and I suspect that it needs slightly less twist than pure silk if you want to keep any softness and drape in the finished yarn.  I definitely prefer pure silk, but this was a lot of fun.  Yum!

86) D is for…

Dammit, dammit!

OK, this one might take some explaining.

Anyone who is interested in thinking about thinking, overcoming obstacles and wacky self-discovery methods might also be interested in reading Havi's blog.  Recently, she introduced the concept of a 'dammit list' – sort of a cross between a personal manifesto and an affirmation/reminder of internal truths.  It's called a dammit list because the kind of sentences that go on the list tend to be ones that can profitably be ended with a firm 'dammit!'.  Like, "I deserve a job that makes me feel good about myself, dammit!", or, "I only travel by train when I can get cheap first class tickets, dammit!".  I love the idea, but haven't really put any thought into a list of my own.

Last night, a 'dammit' arrived spontaneously:

I get to choose what lives in my studio, dammit!

Which sounds obvious, but is actually a bit of a revelation.  My studio is full.  My studio is so full, I don't like to work in it.  In fact, calling it a studio is a bit misleading; it's more of a storeroom, really.  And given that my studio is actually the largest bedroom in the house, it seems rather a shame:


My studio is full of materials and equipment for projects which haven't happened.  Perhaps I just got over-enthusiastic (hellooo, yarn stash, I'm looking at you!) – or perhaps it was a 'business idea' that never materialised (which would account for all the corsetry fabric, and the dancewear fabric in the loft, too.  Yeah).  Perhaps I *think* I'm interested in pursuing some of these crafts, but I'm not, really (quilting?).  Maybe some of the equipment just intimidates me (yes, knitting machine, I see you lurking there…)  Until recently, it also contained a whole bunch of stuff that the 'house' needs but which, really, has no place in my studio.  Fortunately, the filing cabinet and all the gift wrapping supplies have already moved out, probably in disgust.

If I whittled down my supplies, I might actually have room for a … floor loom?  Perhaps?  Shall I check in again in a month, and let you know how it's going?

D is also for DONE.  Our total window and door refit is finished!!  I now have a red front door, full double glazing, and no draughty patio window.  It's *brilliant*, and I'd recommend the company we went with in a heartbeat.  I would show photographic evidence, but some other members of this household have privacy issues.  (Those hounds.  So fussy!)

Also, tomorrow is the day we get to show off our challenge projects with the Rampton Spinners group, so that needs to be Done, too.  I had better get seaming…


83) A is for…


J has been suffering abdominal pain – bad enough to keep him in his pyjamas, but not bad enough to prevent him from sampling the leftover Hallowe'en chocolates – since Saturday morning.  Diffuse lower abdominal pain, which is sensitive to pressure, and slowly 'focusing' itself off to the right, between his navel and his hip bone.

Last night, he phoned our local out-of-hours service, who confirmed our amateur diagnosis of 'probable appendicitis', and this morning, I dropped him off at A&E.  As yet, I've heard nothing further, and can only presume that this means he is in some way incapable of using his phone (because mobiles are now allowed in hospitals, and if I know him, he's going to be Very Very Bored by now).

Of course, this is the week we are having window fitters in for four days, double glazing the whole house.  J was going to work from home, bless him, to keep an eye on the workmen, so I don't have to.

It never rains but it pours – and we live on a flood plain!

54) View of a Sunday morning


Foreground to background: the edge of my laptop screen, some dye bottles, the patio table (shade already up), lavendar and the garden.  There may be a puppy tail waving amongst the lavendar or a nose poking through; if not in this shot, then sometime very shortly after or before.

J is out of shot to the left, painting the new (to us) shed.  I have work to do; a pattern to finish grading, and another to check.  Yesterday was World Wide Knitting In Public day, and I forgot to put sunscreen on my front.

Just resting on the edge of the patio table and a chair hidden by the dye bottles:


The fruits of my dyepot and a few stolen moments every evening this week.  I have plans for this, oh, yes, I do.  Before I can get to that, though, I have to finish up this pattern.  First, more coffee.

Kitchen! Kitchen! Kitchen!! Wheeee!!!

'tis done! And it looks fantastic! I am so chuffed with it – it's really come together well. And on time. We seem to have oceans of storage space – which is a good thing, it was planned that way – and all the cupboards seem enormous! The wall cupboards are much taller than the old ones (3 shelves instead of 2!), and the base units along the cooker wall are 10cm deeper than the old ones. Plus, of course, there are now base units along the old radiator wall, too!

Of course, there are all kinds of little things left to do – some sealing round the sink, some paint touch-ups, and we need to buy and install the upstands around the edge of the worktop. And the decorative cornice that goes round the base of the cupboards isn't attached yet, or the under-cupboard lighting that it will hide. But, essentially, It Is Done. And It Is *Good*. 🙂

More photos to follow…

Yellow! Yellow walls!

Two coats of paint went on last night, pretty much according to plan. And… the walls are looking good! Especially the wall formerly known as 'radiator wall'. This is the wall that will not be obscured (above worktop height) by units, so This Is Important.

However, I still hate the evil joint tape, and re-iterate my dislike for even slightly glossy paint on walls. Matt! Matt paint is what walls want! Soft, almost powdery looking matt paint that of zero specularity! Gentle, forgiving matt paint that hides all lumps, bumps and imperfections! Sadly, matt paint is a grease sponge and not very washable, thus is a bad choice for kitchens. There is a reason why "Kitchen and Bathroom" paint only comes in semi-gloss – it's non-absorbent and washable. Hmmmph.

The joint tape has sadly left a noticeable indentation in the joint filler that we have failed to Polyfill unto unobtrusiveness 🙁 I *think* and am fervently hoping that the joints will both be hidden by wall units – at least one will be, for certain sure. Both, I think. Hope. It's nothing that will show up on a photograph (which explains why all those 'one day makeover' DIY shows manage to make everything look spangly without 2 weeks of back-breaking prep work for the whole team), but frustrating after all the hard work that was put into it – and not even by me. 🙁

I was surprised by the sheer *yelllowness* of the walls this morning. I thought we'd picked a colour that was pretty white, but yellowish (rather than pinkish or brownish, which describes most 'magnolia' type colours). At any rate, I thought it was much less yellow than the units (which I didn't have time to check before I left for work this morning), in order to provide a contrast. There are two possible explanations:

  • The kitchen is going to be very, very yellow
  • I was wrong about the paint colour

Hmmm. I think I'd rather that the kitchen turned out hyper-yellow. Not, you understand, because I have a pathological objection to being wrong or anything (ahem), but because I'd rather have a contrast between the walls and the units than have it too blendy-inny. And yellow is a bright, happy, sunshiny colour anyway.

The other possibility, I suppose, is that it currently looks far yellower than it is, because it used to be pinkish/brownish/polyfillerish/plasterboardish and I haven't got used to it yet. Mmmmmaybe… 😉

On schedule! Boo-YAHH!!

Got primer on the walls last night. 2 people, 2 brushes, 1 evening. Does this make me worried about tonights goal of 2 coats of paint (with a 5 hour gap between them)? No, not at all, because:

  1. We don't have to sand, hoover or dust anything before we can start tonight
  2. Similarly, the floor is already all protected by plastic dustsheet
  3. Dulux Trade Primer can only be applied by brush cos it's all runny. This is slow. Dulux Kitchen and Bathroom paint, however, is much thicker and so can be applied with a roller (of which we have two, with matching, clean heads). This is much quicker
  4. I got into work at 8 this morning, which means I can go home at 4:30, and therefore actually start painting at 5pm. The observant will notice that this means the earliest I can start the second coat is 10pm
  5. There is always the option of finishing the second coat tomorrow morning before work
  6. I am now so far beyond tired that I have entered the sparkly, jittery world at the other end and have limitless amounts of physical energy and boundless optimism (but can't concentrate to save my life). I'd feel better about this if I didn't have a meeting with some kind of boss-man in a couple of hours.

Hmmm. The optimism may be dying; I just noticed that I have a meeting 4:00 till 5:00… Arse.

Many more photographs have been taken, by the way (but get progressively less interesting as the walls get neater) – I will link some of them to their rightful spots as soon as they have been uploaded.

No longer impossible…

Well, definitely getting there on the kitchen front. The wall is up again, thanks to the (almost) tireless efforts of Martyn. Many, many lesser holes have been filled due to the equal tirelessness of Alex. Much wallpaper, excess filler and wayward paint has been tamed due to the skill and powertools of James. And I've been fussing and puttering and sanding and fine-filling and doing all kinds of less structural or electrical jobs round the edges. The schedule is tight, but does actually look attainable.

I'm very glad I stayed in Cambridge on Thursday night – that was the point at which the whole thing turned around and started going forwards again. Up until that point, it felt as if we were dismantling more than we were creating. All in a good cause, of course, but it all lengthens the project, and the deadline on this one is hard… But on Thursday, the first two sheets of plasterboard went back up, and didn't make too much of a fuss about it, either. (Or at least, Martyn didn't swear too much about it if they did!)

I had a lovely relaxing weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday at my parents' – wow, it's just occurred to me that I only actually spent one full day there. Felt like a much longer break than that!), and got back to the fun that is DIY for Bank Holiday Monday.

The main discovery at this stage was that the jointing tape they sell at Homebase is worse than useless. You're supposed to use this stuff to bridge the gap between two pieces of plasterboard – you skim the gap with joint filler, lay the tape over (soaked and all), then top with more filler. Well, Martyn did a really fantastic job with all this on Monday (aided greatly by his glamorous tape-assistant Alex), but by Tuesday morning, all the tape was curling under along its edges and pulling away from the wall. So we had to pull it off, sand down the filler and add more where necessary – what a waste of time and effort!

So that had to be re-done last night. We also bought the paint (which is a relief to have done!), some roller heads that won't stain the paint red or green, very wide masking tape, more electrical outlets and other assorted goodies. I am now resigned to the fact that the deadline on this is way too short to get the walls as lovely as they are in the living room, and in any case, the only way to do that would probably be to replace *all* the walls. So the rest of the evening was devoted to making the walls as flat as possible (apart from Martyn, who wired up a very swanky setup for the washer and dishwasher to be plugged into – circuit breaker {as spotted by J} above the worktop, plugs below), and actually *tidying* tools away. You wouldn't know it to look at the living room, but there's actually significantly less stuff in there than there was yesterday.

I have been up very early for the last two mornings, sanding and filling, sanding and filling. 6am yesterday, 7am today. And the nights have been getting later, too. All of which presumably explains why I have been rambling on for several paragraphs now about the same thing. Well, the end is definitely in sight, anyway. The proposed schedule is as follows:

  • Tonight: lightly sand all walls, hoover them, remove excess dust with damp cloth and prime (primer/sealer for plaster and plasterboard). This takes 18 hours to dry, so needs to be done on its very own evening.
  • Tomorrow: If we can manage it, *two* coats of paint. There's supposed to be 5 hours between coats, so this might not happen. We'll see.
  • Friday before work: Another coat of wall-paint, if not acheived the night before
  • Friday evening: Ceiling paint. We need to have washed the ceiling at some point before this, which is always fun. We're only expecting the ceiling to need one coat, though… Ruth and Roly are arriving on Friday, I think. I'm pretty sure they are, anyway… 😉
  • Saturday: The kitchen starts getting fitted. And I'm off dancing for the day, assuming I can still stand.
  • Sunday: More dancing. Kitchen finished apart from small details like painting woodwork, re-attaching the door, skirting boards and upstands (which I haven't ordered yet…). Curry. Sleep. Mmmmm… Sleeeeeeep….

So, think we'll make it? Heeee. Exciting again, now 🙂

It just goes on and on…

Well, we gave up on the most damaged wall and pulled it off entirely on Tuesday night. I think that was definitely the right decision to make; it needed some rewiring, it was cursed with lumpy wallpaper apparently applied using HugTight Sticky Glue (name that book…), and it had the worst tile holes of the lot. We were somewhat surprised to find no battens between the plasterboard and the breezeblock; just blobs of cementey-gluey stuff. This house is full of surprises, and I'm seriously reconsidering the plan to change the bathroom around.

The other walls are getting there, though. Most of the wallpaper is off, or at least subdued, and after comedy radiator pipe-ends not fitting on Tuesday, we got it removed last night. The pipes are still hanging down the walls; they will eventually be capped off near the ceiling, but that will require draining the system and making darn sure the end caps fit – without the help of any threaded parts. I decided that it would be far too much of a disaster if we got it wrong, and so it would be left for the fitter to do. But at least we can prep behind the radiator now – some of which will be visible in the new scheme of things…

Oh, and just to make things more interesting, J cut his hand quite nastily yesterday (actually looks far worse in real life than in the photo). DIY hero?? Nah, shopping casualty – packaging breakage on a 4-pack of 2 litre cola bottles. D'oh!

I was originally intending to go up to Middlesbrough tonight for Easter, straight after work. In the circumstances, however, I think I'll postpone till tomorrow morning. It'd be nice if I could go up knowing that there are at least 4 intact walls in my kitchen. When the fitter said there would be a 2 week gap between de-installing and installing the kitchens, I was quite disappointed; I thought that was way more time than I needed (even accounting for Easter weekend). I wasn't expecting the thing to put up quite this level of resistance, though.

Next step, once the walls are up: fill all large and medium 'dings', seal and undercoat. Further ding-filling requirements to be assessed once undercoat is on; experience suggests that once the wall is all one colour, it will be much easier to identify the bits that need more work.

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