This week I decided it was time to try and get the house back to some sort of order after we had it damp-proofed in early December. The plaster had to be knocked off the lower half of a number of the walls in the ground floor rooms. It was replaced with waterproof plaster and we were warned not to redecorate until it had had a few months to dry out properly – since the external walls were insulated and re-rendered last summer, any moisture cannot escape outwards now and it is important not to trap it within the wall. Wallpaper and vinyl emulsion is still out of the question for a while but contract emulsion is apparently OK.
It should have been an easy job just to slap some white emulsion on the new plaster, but of course it’s never that simple. For a start, we decided that we’d fit an outside light on the front of the house since we had the opportunity of running cable to it, and its switch, in the now-exposed plaster. That means connecting into the downstairs lighting circuit where it runs under the floorboards of the bedroom above and taking a cable down in the wall to a new switch beside the front door – straightforward – and another cable through the wall to the light – not so straightforward.
Rather than running cable outside in surface mounted mini-trunking on the pristine new render, I wanted to have the vertical cable run inside, hidden in an inaccessible void, then take it straight through the wall to where it needs to be. I attached half a dozen small-but-mighty neodymium magnets to a nylon cord and used a 6′ carbon fibre pole left over from a kite-making phase to push them along a small hole I’d drilled through the 9″ brick wall, beneath the floorboards, into the void space. That done, I attached some more magnets to a springy glass fibre rod (also bought for kite-making) and poked it up through the hole I’d drilled into the void from outside. Despite my husband’s complete scepticism, after an hour’s fishing around (or ferreting, as electricians call it) from outside with the glass fibre rod, the magnets found each other and I was able to pull through the nylon draw cord. Half an hour later we had the cable in place.
We still need to finish installing the switch and the cable leading to it, then that wall can be filled and painted. I have spent hours this week scraping wallpaper off the old plaster on the upper half of the walls and washing off wallpaper paste and what looks like old-fashioned oxblood paint underneath it. The colour is so fugitive that I know it will make the new emulsion paint go pink if I don’t get it off. When the painting is done, I’ll have to fit the new outside light and connect it all up. Then, perhaps at the end of the summer, we can line the walls again (the old plaster isn’t good enough just to paint) and paint them something other than boring white.
In the middle of all this domestic chaos, dear husband decided we needed to go and test drive new cars because our ancient diesel is on its last legs. We had already worked our way through all the hybrid cars in the Toyota and Honda ranges earlier in the month, before concluding that, although an all-electric car would suit us if it had an acceptable range, a hybrid really wouldn’t because we don’t do the mileage to justify the additional cost and complexity. As someone who earns her living from the environment, this is a pity, but now we are back to looking at petrol engined cars. Renault’s 898cc 3-cylinder engine appeals and it has a lot more oomph than you’d expect from such a small capacity. In fact, the power doesn’t feel markedly different from our current vehicle which has over twice the cylinder capacity, albeit it is a diesel and heavier. EU legislation has certainly made car manufacturers up their game in recent years. After test driving 4 Toyotas, 2 Hondas and 2 Renaults in the last couple of weeks I am almost at the point that I don’t care what we get as long as I don’t have to drink bad coffee and be talked down to by idiot salesmen in car dealers’ showrooms any more.
The gansey continues to make progress and I took it along this morning to show off to the Saturday knitting group I attend. I opted to form the gussets by means of increases either side of a central stitch, I just thought that looked a little more interesting than the usual increase-at-the-edge-or-one-stitch-in style. They are nearly long enough and then I can split for the armholes and continue on two needles. I am looking forward to that because I’m not a big fan of knitting in the round, but it is traditional for a gansey. I need to design the top part of the body now, it can’t be put off any longer. I have various motifs I’d like to incorporate but they all take different numbers of stitches and rows. I’ll have to enlarge some or reduce others, or put in some filler panels to make it work. Someone asked me last week what the sleeves are going to be like and looked a little surprised when I said I hadn’t a clue.
I also took a sock along to the knitting group today. This pair of socks is meant to be light relief when the gansey gets too much, or when dear husband wants to watch something sub-titled on TV and I need easy knitting. However, I’m no sock expert and, despite this being the second of the pair, something went wrong with the second half of the heel and I came out of it with an extra stitch. I ripped it all out last night, back to the end of the first half of the heel, and, thankfully, it has worked the second time around. The yarn is King Cole’s Zig-Zag which produces a sort of Fair Isle effect.
There are a couple of woolly things going on locally in the coming months, details of which were circulated amongst the knitters this morning. Firstly, Otley Courthouse is hosting the Wharfe Wool Fair on Saturday 10th May, which looks like it will be a good do. In September there is Yarndale, a much bigger event in Skipton. I went last year, spent 3 hours there and didn’t even get round half the stalls. I did buy this Puelo llama yarn by Araucania though, with which I made a boomerang-shaped scarf/shawl earlier this year.
It’s definitely worth going to Yarndale 2014 if you’re anywhere near Skipton, or even if you have to make a special journey. It’s on 27th and 28th September.