Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe - Last 2015 update (probably)

Back in June I challenged myself to make a weeks worth of clothes using mostly up-cycled materials.
So far I have succeeded making some items from my challenge list...

Seven pairs of underpants, in fact I made ten pairs.

Three skirts

Three pairs of long pants, I just can't stop making these.

At the moment I am working on making some tops from remnant materials I have found in my stash and at the second hand store. After that I will tackle shorts and socks (not together obviously). The hard things like bras and shoes will be left until last... I have a few ideas.

The prototype top, simple but comfortable.
More and more of my clothes are hand made now. I am really pleased with my progress on this challenge. I am wearing everything I make regularly and even making some things not on the list originally (like house dresses).

Saturday, 26 December 2015

What I did this Christmas

I don't do Christmas, not being a Christian and believing that the symbols traditional at this time of year are all wrong (who needs solar symbols and the promise of life returning when life is in it's baking prime outside the door). Instead I have a few 'recharge' days.
As I do every year, I planned a quiet couple of days without people around. My partner and daughter went off to visit family (the other daughter had to work) and settled in to finish an assignment and have a well deserved break from humanity.
Well that was not to be... first Nut (one of my sheep) came in not long after being let out looking sick, so I put her in an old aviary in a straw nest and called the vet. The vet advised me to give her electrolytes, worm her again and call back after Christmas (the vet version of take an asprin and call me in the morning). I had no injectable electrolyte so I made an arrangement to get one of my sisters to pick some up on the way to my parents house. With that all arranged I checked on Nut and found her standing up and hungry, so I got her some food. Meanwhile Shaun and Sid were trying to break into the aviary to get the food so I put them out to graze and went back to study.

Nut and my daughter's butt.

It wasn't until I had lunch that I noticed I hadn't heard Shaun for a while, I went out and called him...no answer. I looked in all his hiding places...no Shaun. Worried now I decided to check Nut and go for a longer walk. I found Nut had died' still standing with a mouth full of sheep pellets.
As you can imagine, I was shocked and dismayed. I said my goodbyes and ushered her soul to the afterlife (as is my ritual) then went looking for Shaun. I searched the entire area around our humpy with no luck, calling myself hoarse and crying in worry and grief. I rang my partner and daughters to tell them what had happened, and tearful conversations followed. Eventually my sister showed up with the medical supplies.

Shaun as a young lamb

Slightly older

Good naturedly wearing a tutu and wings

Shaun now

Begging for rice crackers

My sister and I continued to search for a few hours, re-covering ground I had already searched, but no luck. I was beginning to lose hope now. My heart broke then, losing both Nut and Shaun in one day was too much to take, Eventually I went inside and did the usual evening chores and went to bed, only to toss and turn all night with dreams of him returning. The next morning (Christmas day) I got up early and dug a HUGE hole and buried Nut. Some advice here; dead sheep are heavy, I eventually got the wheelbarrow out and struggled her into it. Sid, very worried about Shaun escorted the hearse to the grave site and stood with his head down beside the grave like a well trained mourner until I had filled the hole half full of soil (and my strength gave out). The rest of the day was filled with searching and calling and tears, for both Sid and I. In the evening my mother called and invited me to tea, feeling that I needed a distraction I gathered up a bottle of wine and went.
I came home just after dark (fairly late at this time of year) and did the night time things; feeding animals, bringing babies and old folks inside for the night, then staggered off to bed (remember the wine). About an hour later I heard Shaun's sweet voice calling at the front gate, having dreamed this the night before I couldn't quite believe I was awake (remember the wine), but I got up and checked anyway. There he was demanding to be let in, I let him into the house, checked him for injuries and got him some food. He was very hungry and thirsty and appeared to have had a bath, but otherwise he was fine. That's when it occurred to me I might still be dreaming.
I rang my partner (who luckily was still up) and told him that Shaun was back, but I could still be dreaming, he said send him a photo as proof and that would tell us one way or the other. I did that and he confirmed it was Shaun, we were both relieved and happy to see him. It wasn't until much later it occurred to me that he would have responded that way if I were dreaming too (remember the wine). I decided that if he was still here in the morning , he was real and off to bed I went.

The photo I sent to Kev' for confirmation

He was still there the next morning and is now under house arrest until further notice. I still haven't finished my assignment (due in a few days) and have had no break from people at all, but what I thought was tragedy has now turned into an interesting story and I have Shaun back.
As for why Nut died...in my rambles around the paddock I found some nibbled mushrooms and sheep do love to get high. I am guessing that she ate some bad mushrooms and they stopped her heart. I will miss my old friend deeply.

Monday, 21 December 2015

A new spy camera

Recently (well two months ago) we lashed out and bought one of those motion sensor, infra red, weatherproof cameras so we can take photos of wildlife around the humpy without having to disturb them too much. So far I have only set it up around the yard in a few locations to get the hang of using it. It has managed to capture some fun shots which I thought I'd share. So here is a series of photos from our spy camera;

As you can see, this corner of the yard is a busy place. Where should I set it up next?

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Shade cloth everywhere

A few weeks ago we managed to pick up 10 metres of industrial grade shade cloth. It's the stuff they use in shopping centre car parks, so it's pretty tough. The plan was to put it up as a shade sail on the northern side of the humpy to shade and hopefully cool the interior and to provide shade for all the animals that live in the yard. This weekend we got to the job.

First my hen pecked partner zoomed off into the bush and cut some poles from a tree which blew down in a storm recently. We then debarked the bottoms of the poles so that they would not get loose in their cemented holes (due to the bark drying out and falling off). While this was happening I was dutifully digging 60 cm deep holes in the assigned places. I hate digging, but as it was for a good cause I persevered.

Debarking in progress

My daughter helping with the digging

Moving the poles into their assigned holes was an awkward job, but with the help of some old tire rims we managed it.

The posts were cemented in with quick set cement to hold them firmly.

We then tied wire from the posts to the roof in a sort of zigzag pattern to hold the shade cloth up.

Almost done, just clipping the shade cloth to the wire.

Now the galah aviary is fully shaded and I can remove the old feather quilts from the roof ( they have provided insulation for two summers now).

One more job down, I plan to put some benches under there so I can sit in the shade with a coffee sometimes.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Up- cycled wardrobe project- a really comfortable house dress

On one of my infrequent trips to town recently I discovered a queen sized quilt cover in a second hand shop (for the queenly price of $5). It was made from good quality cotton, in lovely colours, so I bought it for my sewing projects. I did consider using it on the bed as I do need new bed spreads, but in the end I couldn't resist the colours.

I decided to make a simple summer house dress, and by house dress I mean a dress to wear at home, in the paddocks, in the bush and occasionally in the house. The first step was to find a simple pattern to try...along comes 'Greenie dresses for less' a great blog about up-cycling. I chose the convincingly labeled 'easy summer dress' pattern and away I went.

This is the finished dress on it's hanger.

My first step was to unpick the side and bottom seams of the quilt cover.

Yes it did take a long time; almost an entire Youtube documentary about mermaids.

Then I cut out two rectangles of fabric 107 x 97 cm each, cleverly keeping the hemmed bottom of the cover so I don't have to do it later.

I sewed the side seams up using French seams (so I don't have to zig zag the edges).

This is the finished French seam, aren't they so neat and tidy.

This is my ironing set up. The old iron is solid aluminium and very heavy. I use the frying pan to keep the bottom clean while I heat it up to iron.

Ironing the seams and such. I love the smell of fresh ironing.

The almost last step was to sew up a pocket for the shoulder straps to go through.

The iron made this so easy to do.

Then I made the shoulder straps. I decided to make some cord (or rope) to use as shoulder straps. This is so easy and quick to make. The 'recipe' is...take some lengths of yarn, cord or string, make sure you have about double the length you will need (more if you have a lot of pieces). Attach one end to a hook or something (another person is good if you have one handy), then standing at the opposite end twist the cord away from you until it is full of twist energy. It should try to twist back on itself if you slacken the tension.
When it has enough twist in it you can fold the piece in half, keeping tension on the length as you do this. Make the cord by releasing small lengths of cord from the folded end a bit at a time. Finally tie a knot in the end and there is your cord.

I know it sounds complicated, but it isn't. Give it a try and see.

I measured out three metre lengths of bamboo yarn until I had nine lengths in total.

The final result

These house dresses are not fancy, (or even flattering on me), but they are cool and comfortable and allow me a full range of motion. I think I will sew up a few more.
Next time I think I will make the back much shorter than the front so it gives me a smoother line at the back. I also might make the shoulder straps longer so I can adjust the fit more.

What do you think?

Oh, and I dug out my old corset to see what it would look like with the new dress. All I can say is I know why tavern wenches were so easy to talk out of their clothes...those things are hard work.

It didn't last long on. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Latest news from Shaun the sheep

About a month ago we took Shaun to the vet because he suddenly stopped taking bottles. Of course I went into panicked mummy mode and rang the vet straight away to make an appointment. We decided to take Shaun to work with us and leave for the vet straight from there. He didn't mind at all as he loves car trips and going to new places with us.

He lazed around the Backpackers while we cleaned showers and toilets, attracting attention and praise. Then we set off for the vet, two towns over.

Shaun lounging by the cleaning supplies shed in the shade.

Shaun lounging in front of the toilet door

Shaun lounging in the outdoor eating area

At the vet's office

He's such a patient little boy

After much undignified poking and prodding (which he politely tried to decline) the vet decided he was just beginning to wean himself. However the vet noticed that his legs are shorter than usual and that he is sort of disproportionate. It is hard to tell without genetic testing (expensive) but it looks like our Shaun is a dwarf sheep. Apparently this can be caused by genetics, mother's diet and heat during pregnancy. It isn't very common and we aren't sure if it will effect his life span.

Apparently there was another farmer named Wright who managed to breed dwarf sheep, which he called Otter or Ancon sheep. Unfortunately they were prone to all sorts of health problems like arthritis, joint problems and digestive upsets, all things that Shaun has had trouble with. After a lot of reading and thinking about it I have decided that Shaun will probably not make the usual ten year lifespan of an ordinary sheep. Whatever his lifespan though, Shaun will have a home with us and we will do our best to keep him happy and healthy for as long as possible, because he is family now, and we love him.

Sid; Shaun's brother, is growing up fast. He is such a sweet and caring boy.

You can see Shaun's stumpy legs and bent ankles in this photo

He does look a bit like the photos in the journal article above.