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Veggie Garden

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Here I am on a cold winter’s buying seedlings for a spring that it is months away.  As the weather has cooled my time in the garden draws to a close as it becomes dormant for the winter.  My creative focuses will move indoors until the days warm up.

I am ashamed to post a photo of the veggie patch.  There are signs of growth but they are minimal.  The magical combo of slugs and a stomping Airedale has meant more damage has occurred than growth.  I have found it dishearting at times and I know this it is part of gardening.  I am learning to be a slower more careful gardener and not just expect things to grow because you have put them in the ground.  Plants need attention, focus and care.  I know that overcoming my frustrations are what makes it satisfying when you can harvest food despite obstacles.  As the saying goes lessons are repeated until learnt.  I do admit some days I don’t want to learn but I know if I learn something I am better person and gardener for it.  I have been igorning the slugs and the dog and then I get upset when things don’t go as planned.  So I will admit defeat for the moment.  Acknowledge what I can change and control (Airedale and slugs) and things I can’t (the weather) and start planning a new.

We have decided to fence off the veg garden.  It was something we were going to do before we got the dog but it never happened and with him constantly plowing thru the patch chasing birds and cats becoming more of a problem it is time we actually did this.  Plans have been made for a simple fence which we can grow some roses and clematis on (girl has to make it pretty) with some gates.  Thankfully Dog is not a fence jumper so hopefully it will be enough to deter him.

Once the fence is up I will feel more confident about putting treatments out for slugs.  I will use pet friendly ones but I still didn’t like putting such stuff out where he could find it. This is one very curious Airedale and so far has been that dog that does when every other dog doesn’t.  I also plan on just pulling anything that is damaged out and then just covering the beds with mushroom compost.  I don’t think I will plant anything new until the spring.

So momentarily I will turn my back in my garden and just let it be.  Let it rest for the winter.  Let the worms find the compost and work some magic on the soil so that when I return in the spring it will be with a heart filled with joy.  In the meantime there are still treats to find in the garden.  Some spinach, kale and Caveo Nero.  Maybe the cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts will come to something.  Maybe not.  Either way I will be ok with that.  Lessons have been learnt and I am becoming a more seasoned gardener as a result.

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Bedford Jumper

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I have decided reading a knitting pattern is like making a new friend.  Sometimes the conversation flows easily from the start and you both understand each other well.  Other times it is more ‘oh that was what you mean’.  With the Bedford Jumper  (in Long John wool  –  what a cool name for a wool) I did find it hard going understanding the pattern, perhaps cause it was a step up from what I have knitted in the past and perhaps because I am a bit rusty.  Previous knits had been from one company so you knew what they were talking about.  I was super stoked that the stitch pattern turned out like it did in the picture (I also discovered the down side of working a pattern from a PDF that had been doodled on and folded a million times it gets hard to see the pictures correctly) but given that my sleeves are super long suggests something went wrong.

I do have a problem if I don’t understand what a pattern means when I knit that I start making things up which I kind did towards the end of knit when the instructions where do this and while doing this do that as well.  Sorry I have fully embraced the I can do one thing at a time kinda girl so I suspect ignoring part of the instructions might have been part of the problem.  I should also fully admit that perhaps the pattern thought I knew more than I did and perhaps that the old saying a girl can do anything should only apply to some knitting patterns when you have a few more jumpers under your belt.  After all it is my second jersey I have knitted in a while so perhaps my expectations where a bit high.

So as I write we have had there days of rain and somehow this jersey seems perfect for the weather.  Colourful (girl loves her red), comfy, warm and perfect for snuggling in while it pours outside.  It’s oversizeness is the perfect kind of big and comfy and I have found it is the perfect jumper for walking the dog.  It’s big enough to throw on over a sweatshirt if one is feeling lazy and just wants to be warm.  So while I struggled with the pattern the over all end product is awesome.  So for all it’s wonkiness in a weird way it is perfect.

Ilse Crawford

“The senses are about being present in our bodies in time and space. Spaces that engage physically literally around us, slow us down and put our over-active, over-stimulated minds in their proper place.  They help us focus on the moment.  They make us more aware of our surroundings.  In short they enhance life.  They improve our well being.”

A frame of life p.175

Sometimes you have people bounce in and out of your life at various times.  I first learnt of Ilse Crawfordwhen I was in my late teens.  For some reason Elle Decoration in the 90’s meant a world of possibilities for a small town girl like myself.  At the time Ilse was the editor.  I subscribed for years and then moved on to other things just as Ilse did.  A couple of books followed for Ilse and the day dream of having your own space to decorate continued for me.  I lived in a number of flats and made desperate attempts to make them feel homely and my own.  Finally home ownership arrived and I have enjoyed putting our stamp on our house.

Last week I finally finished reading A frame of life.  I brought it last year for my birthday and to say I am a dipper when it comes to reading is understatement.  I have discovered I learn more when I read a bit here and there.  I am slow and I take my time to do what I call marinate on ideas I read about. So what started as a slow read became a bit of a gallop as I become absorbed in the ideas expressed in this book.

“I find truth is better and definitely stranger than fiction, no question.  It is far more interesting & I think you can learn more by studying one, two or three individuals, in all their eccentricities and then building a world around them than by looking at an abstract idea of people.  A case study of an individual is always more revealing.  My belief is that we need to prioritise the human experience.”  

A frame of life p.165

I had thought maybe being an interior designer when I was younger might have been my jam but felt uncomfortable with the idea of just making thing pretty.  This book outlines ideas and thoughts that have come from years of working in a manner which focuses more how someone lives, spends time and feels in a space.  A highly personal approach to interiors rather than concern about the latest trend in wallpapers.  I really like this approach.  It is something I have to a point tried to do in our house but now after reading this book want to think about more.  It seems to fit with the slow evolution of a house you have brought to making it your home.  I like the idea that working on an interior is something that takes time as you get to know your space, the history of the place and how you fit into it.

Cheatsheet is available in the form of a Netflix episode of Abstract which is a pretty darn cool series.

Chair

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Excuse the background.  Parts of the house are still works in progress.  Our main focus of late has been paying it off and now that is done it is time to finish things and actually enjoy living in it.  We need to do some work on the windows and I think the reality is that we will need to actually replace them.  It is proving harder than planned to find second hand bits to replace the sills that are damaged due to age which is our planned idea.  The current day dream is a windows that open out fully so that the whole side can be open. I love this idea and imagine a huge lavender hedge below so you can sit in the coolness of the evening and just be.

Anyway this ramble is about a chair not a window.  The chair orginally was two brown wicker ones (one each side of the bookcase) which I found on trademe.  They fitted the conservatory look I was going for.  The only problem was as all problems seem to be was the Airedale (a lot of my problems seem to stem from him) who likes to sit in the chairs.  He gets a great view from the street and often curls up for a snooze.  Anyone who has an Airedale knows they like to sit on things, especially if they are human seats.  He is very Shelton about his spot on the couch).  This is all fine and dandy except he was noisy especially at night when he would move about and the chair would creak and groan under the pressure of the Airedale butt.  My solution was to put in a new chair and it was one my mum very kindly gave me.  I have been wanting to recover it for ages partly was because it was mustard yellow and partly was it would end up very faded due to the where it was sitting in the sun.

Soooo it was added to my very long list of plans once we had more pennies.  The list is long and the only reason the recovering happened now was a by chance visit to spotlight where I found this beautiful fabric.  It was perfect.  I am not normally a green kinda girl in the house but somehow given where our room is situated in the house,it seems have to become inspired by conservatory style greens and plants.  I like how the room has turned out and I have a few more things to do (velvet green ottoman anyone yeah I am going to go there).

My recovering style is pretty basic and involves a staple gun and needle and thread.  I staple the fabric to the base and then pin and sew it to the chair.  It does mean I can remove the fabric if I a) need to give I the chair back to mum or b) decide green is not for me and it has to go.  It took me a couple of hours to do and was an excellent rainy day project.  Airedale approves and his little fuzzy butt has taken residence.

 

Garden

As many of you know I have a big garden. Our section is made up of three lots. Most Kiwi gardens are made up of two, so it is slightly bigger than most. Thankfully the folk who built the house had the sense to put it at the top end of the section.  As a result we have lovely long slopping garden (yes we live on a hill parallel with the steepest street in the world).  I love having so much space and I love that Atlas the Airedale can rollick around. Admittedly not so much when he is gaining speed as he thunders down to the bottom of the garden to sort out a cat or bird, trampling any part of the veggie garden that gets in the way.  Good bye courgettes.

There is still a lot of work to go and it is slowly getting there. I routinely weed the same patches and I hope in the coming months to get some momentum on filling gaps so that hopefully next summer it will be less about the weeds and more about the plants.

The veg garden has come a long way from being a pile of rubbish kindly left by the previous owner. It has structure, which I love. One of my favourite things is being about to gaze out over from the kitchen window. It produces food, which I love to collect for dinner if the slugs, aphids and Atlas’s have not gotten to it before me (Yes I have caught him casually chomping on some broccoli before today).

So as a new year started and after visiting my parents over the Christmas break and seeing how stunning my Dad’s veggie garden looked (his comments well is should since he is retired and he has the time to focus on it) I set myself a wee challenge. Of course it is a 21st century slightly hipster challenge but hey this is the world we live in. Dad offered me some sage advice and like most wilful children it takes a few years sometimes before one will admit parents know best (yes I am finally going to get some waterproof pants for when I am on the bike about 20 years  after mum suggesting I need some when I was at high school). Anyway back to Dad. He said you need to visit the garden every day to check on it’s progress and he is right. You learn who has set up camp and shouldn’t have (I am on guard at the moment for those damn white butterflies). You can pick the spinach and coriander before it bolts. You can watch it grow.

To encourage this new habit I have taken to taking a photo a day of the garden  and putting it on Instagram . I have also been  encouraging myself to make sure we are eating what is there. I do sometimes get lazy and feel the 2 minute walk is to far and I can’t be bother washing the lettuce. So I am working on it.

Posting a photo is a good thing for me. I post cause I want to remember the season and how it progressed (so far incredibly slowly due to the wettest summer on record). I post so that I push myself to take better photos (I am a currently using the old iPhone but I have an online photography course that I want to do and I want to move on from the iphone to using the big boy camera). I also post because I think having a garden is important. It teaches you so much about the seasons, where food comes from. I think everyone should have a garden and as I wrote in my first post this year I want to be the change I want to see.

Socks

This knitting lark was re started with socks. I hadn’t knitted for years. I think it was maybe 10 years ago when I went through a Rowan knitting pattern phase. I think I was still working in the library then. It is safe to say the knitting needles had been gathering dust.    Socks had been on my to do list for ages. Nana (knitting stories always seem to start with a Nana) had knitted the grandkids socks over the years. I still have my first pair. They are very worn. The sole is threadbare but every so often I wear them. I cherish these socks. They were knitted when the pre printed Fair Isle pattern was big. They are blue, white and pink. I love them.

So a couple of years ago I decided to get back into knitting. My idle time previously had been spent manically making Christmas ornaments.  When things started to shift and I realised that this hobby/business had run it’s course I was looking for something new to do when I sat in front of the telly.   I guess there was another shift starting to happen as well as I was becoming more conscious of my clothing spending habits. I wanted to be a bit more responsible about what I brought and ensure fair trade labour was involved in the making of things I wore. I was also becoming increasingly frustrated with the fact that as I was getting older I seem to fall in to a gap when it came to clothing style. Things in shops tended be either way too young or too old. I was somewhere in the middle and not really liking what I was seeing. So I decided to start thinking about how to make my own clothing. It seems this plan was to start with socks.

Over the past couple of years I have knitted a few pairs of socks. Last count there was 12 pairs. The pattern is the same. I purchased it from  Purl Soho. It’s based in London and if you ever feel the itch to start knitting socks this pattern is pretty good one to start with. The wool is from Uruguay. From a family run company who place a high emphasis on sustainability and happy sheep. The company is called Malabrigo  and the colours are multi and divine, just don’t wash in the machine on a normal wash or the beautiful colours will fade (socks number 2 and 4 meet this fate.  Socks number 6 one has gong missing). My favourite part was learning how to turn the heel. I am not the best at sticking to a pattern but while I made a few tweaks or in the knitting world hacks for the most part I stuck to the pattern and as a result I have some pretty happy feet. I went old school and knitted on four ridiculously small needles (1mm) with very fine wool and while the socks are beautiful it would take me a while to finish up these beauties. This was highlighted the other night when the other half commented on how fast I was progressing on my current jumper. Thicker wool and 3.5mm needles make a big difference man. I have moved on from socks and while there is a strong urge to continue making socks and I have collected a number of sock patterns which I wish to knit but for the moment I am going to put my ridiculously small needles aside and focus on a jumper whilst looking for a particularly fine green blue colours sock which seems to have vanished.  Aka sock number 6.

Slow

This is my word for 2017.

We have slow food, slow fashion why note a slow year.

This doesn’t mean I am going to start moving in a sloth like pace.

Rather I want to take a step back from rushing to get things done

and actually enjoy doing them.

Appreciate the simple pleasure of making a cup of tea.

Take time to read a book.

Just sit and eat freshly picked raspberries.

Slow leads me to this.

A way of keeping in touch.

An email would work just fine but….

I wanted to have accountability for what I do.

My list of things I want to learn is long.

I have plans of gardening, knitting, sewing, weaving and so on.

I wanted to record and share what I do.

This is a slow way of doing that.

A photo taken which is planned and created.

A considered word written.

Most of my friends and family live some distance away from me, so when

the last lovely lass left to follow her husband with the wandering feet

I promised to keep in touch.

To ensure we didn’t loose touch I promise to write

every time I finished knitting something.

This is the promise.

Keeping in touch a funny format.

I hope you don’t mind