SAL ~ The forest regenerates #?

Well, there has been little progress in the last three weeks. Not surprising, as the whole world has turned upside down in those three weeks.

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However, there has been some work, mainly in this area.

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You must be aware of all the help there is to keep our hands active and our minds calmer. I have signed up for this challenge at TextileArtist.org. Each week a different textile artist is presenting a sewing exercise. There is a closed FB group, but no pressure to show, or even finish the work. It may be something that interests you too. The first week has almost gone, but I am sure you could still participate.

the first exercise was to divide a 15 x 15 cm square into four, choose a stitch and experiment with creating different effects in each square. My choice was chain stitch. Still a square to go, as you can see,

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This Stitch-A-Long is organised by Avis. We are all working on different pieces and post updates every three weeks. Have a look at the other embroiderers on the list below; I am sure you will be amazed at the beauty you find.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ, Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda

 

Beeutiful, belicious 🐝

There is a world out there…..

Let me show you some of the bee magnets in my garden.

Salvias. I love them, and so do the bees. Also I have seen a wattle bird drinking the nectar. Now a wattle bird is more the size of a blackbird than a hummingbird. The stems certainly sway when this bird comes to drink, making me fear for the bush when I see one feeding, as salvias are quite brittle. The bees are much more gentle.

I have also had a couple of blue banded native bees visit. Maybe it is the intense blue of the flower. They do say that bees are attracted to blue.

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Rosemary. If you have one, you know how the bees love it. If you don’t, think about popping one into your garden. They grow well in pots. I am going to plant a prostrate one at some point.

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Sedum, Autumn Joy, I think. Not only does it attract bees, but the dried flower heads make a lovely feature either kept on the plant in a winter garden or brought indoors. And it is so easy to split the base and roots and replant elsewhere.

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However the most attractive flower to bees is this little unassuming one ~ oregano, if I remember right. It flowers for ages and whenever I look there are usually at least half a dozen bees in attendance. The bush sprawls its way over everything else, but I never have the heart to cut it back until flowering has well and truely finished. By that time it is already sprouting new shoots from the base.

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Of course bees are not the only good helpers in the garden, so I like to encourage others too. This strategy has the added benefit of allowing me to be lazy, letting things go to seed instead of clearing and tidying. Hover flies and ladybirds love the parsley flowers and the newly setting seeds. So parsley umbels stay, set seed and drop their seed everywhere. Parsley seed is best sown fresh. Consequently I have way more parsley than I could ever use.

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If you are stuck inside, longing for the outside world, my Instagram posts might help a little. On every daily walk I try to find something in the outside world that makes me feel good. When I can’t walk outside, I will post from my garden. And there is usually a bit of arty/sewing going on there too.

Stay well my friends  🙏🏽

 

Well, here we are then….

You know, I feel so overwhelmed by everything that I don’t know where to begin. Everything seems too huge to be able to get anything down on the page. And of course EVERYONE is feeling exactly the same. It is quite startling to realise that EVERY SINGLE HUMAN on the PLANET if facing the same threat AT THE SAME TIME, and needing to deal with the very basic emotions and fears AT THE SAME TIME. Has that ever happened before? That’s another quite mind blowing concept.

I decided a few days ago that I would give up trying to work out my opinion on many things, such as the debate about opening/closing schools. The bottom of the problem with schools seems to me (see, I do have an opinion!) to come from not really knowing whether children are asymptomatic carriers or not. Will they spread the virus into the community, and elderly relatives especially, or are they better off being slightly more quarantined at school, keeping the vital health workers at work rather than at home caring for their kids? The experts are divided about this, because NO ONE KNOWS THE ANSWER. They can only work from data from overseas, mathematical modelling and medical understandings of disease spread. Data from overseas can only be a guide because each country has very different health systems, testing regimes, and are at different points along the curve. How can I have an opinion?

I only know that

  1. It won’t be over until we have a vaccine
  2. Our world will be a very different place then (but what it will look like is dependent on all the actions that take place along the way, including what you and I do.)
  3. I am so grateful that I do not have to make these big decisions that impact on every aspect of our lives.

So, to cope, I am doing what I can to make my life as healthy ~ mentally and physically ~ as possible.

  • Physical distancing, of course; washing my hands as frequently as possible (I may stop wearing rings as a result!); changing my clothes when I come inside and hanging them in the sunshine
  • I say ‘physical’ distancing, because I am still keeping a social connection, just through other ways. In fact I am in touch with way more people than usual! Kate wrote a great post about sending letters. Australia Post is still operating, even overseas, although there are delays to just about every country. It’s a great way to connect to people who don’t use the internet. I have been reading blogs, and love the way we are keeping each other’s spirits up. Every blog has its own way of doing this, and I thank you.
  • Eating well. Supply chains have been disrupted, mainly because they are scrambling to keep up with the over-the-top demand for food. The Fella and I are okay, and we have enough toilet paper, thank you for asking!
  • Sleeping well. This one is a tricky one. I am sure you understand how the dark thoughts flourish at night. I have a routine of calming tea, nourishing reading (not on a screen) and deep breathing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t I watch rubbish on TV and try to remember that things will be easier to deal with in the daylight.
  • Walking. The fresh air is a great antidote to the darkness. I have added in a daily sketch, which I am posting on Instagram. When I can’t walk outside I will sketch something from the garden. The point is to help me remember that the flowers are still growing, the birds dashing around and the bees are still making honey. The world still turns.
  • Each day I am looking for little things that are beautiful or joyous or connect me. Like these hearts in the window of a local shop, that closed today.

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We have had supportive messages from our neighbours, so I put this sign on our letterbox today.

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  • I am being careful about where I get my news. I haven’t looked at Facebook. I am relying on the sensible coverage of the ABC, our public broadcaster, as well as some recommended sites. I want information and well informed opinions from experts, not hysteria nor ‘I’m no expert but….’.
  • And lastly, of course I am adding creativity into the mix. Although, the odd thing is that I haven’t had time for much sewing lately. Keeping in touch as well as making sure I have the various supplies I need uses up quite a bit of time!

So I hope your strategies for keeping healthy, especially mentally healthy, are working well. Now, I am going for a walk and a sketch.

Stay well.

Namaste 🙏🏽

PS forgive any typos; my brain is scattered and my fingers are following along!

Sewing and mending

Before I launch into my sewing tales, I want to ask if you and your loved ones are okay? I do hope you are staying healthy while this virus rampages around the world. All is good here.

Now, onto other matters:

While I haven’t made a lot of progress on my hand sewing ~ The forest regenerates ~ I have had a productive week with the sewing machine. Once I had it out, one thing lead to another.

  1. A linen jacket

Every so often I hanker to sew a garment. This time I fancied something to layer, not a heavy coat, something lighter. An autumn and spring something.

After a look online I headed to the shop to buy the pattern. Simplicity 8468

[Can I diverge here for some advice? I often look at indie pattern makers, and like what I see. However, I have two obstacles:

  • the price I would have to pay for postage often doubles the price of a paper pattern
  • or they come as a PDF, and I wonder about printing them off. Have you bought PDF  patterns? How did you print them? How would you advise me?]

This shop is one of those huge chain stores, so I wasn’t going to buy my fabric there. Instead I headed to Fibresmith, in Yarraville. When you look at the cloth they have, you will understand why I went there ~ and why I had so much trouble choosing.

My eventual choice was sage green linen. It sewed up so beautifully, giving me a jacket that I know I will be wearing often and for a long while. I love the almost hidden pockets!

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Even the Fella said “Not bad” when I did my super-model act for the photo. And I was pleasantly surprised by the photo he took, as I only had to delete half a dozen previous attempts!

So, fired up I moved on to:

2. An addition to a top.

I bought a top in Japan. I wanted to wear it with leggings, again, adding layers. (I love layers!) But it never quite worked. Was the material too light? To floral? Was it too long? Too much like a nightie? Then I came across an idea on Ann Woods’ site. Do you know of her? She is a great one for mending, adding patches, as well as creating owls and mice and dolls and all manner of little things. Most of all I love her gentle writing.

Ann calls it a front bustle, and you can see a photo of hers if you scroll down almost to the bottom of this post.  This is my version.

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So maybe the solution to my Japanese top was to alter the hemline. We shall see. (Note how the Supermodel Slippers add an extra elegance!) It was quick and easy to do. Ann has instructions if you fancy something similar.

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3. Simple mending

I use old table napkins under the cutting board on my kitchen bench. The hems have given way. The are perfectly useable with wonky hems, but I thought a fancy border might be good. So I did.

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4. Slightly more difficult mending

I love long black jumpers, which layer wonderfully, but perfect ones are very difficult to find. I was annoyed when I discovered one of my favourites had been munched. I am sure I had to darn a sock back in my Brownie days, maybe for my Thrift Badge? It gave me a vague idea of what to do. Now I have a jumper that is full of mends, rather than holes.

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There will be more, as the poor thing has worn thin over the years. I took a photo showing the light coming through the jumper. You can just make out the green garden through the window!

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You know, with all the chaos in the world, it was lovely to do some mending. I can’t mend the world, but I can mend a few little things that I come across. Someone wise on the radio was speaking about the Climate Crisis, and how we feel so overwhelmed. What can one person do? She used the analogy of the Covid-19 pandemic, where we are all doing things to slow down its spread. They might be simple things like washing our hands and not hugging people, or bigger things like self-isolation, but they are things that work. They not only help to protect us and our loved ones, but the wider ~ indeed global ~ community.

We won’t save the world one darn at a time, but add up all the things we do across the globe. Maybe…..

Stay well and healthy.

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I have been creating some smaller abstract embroideries that I am calling ‘The jewel-sea’ series. I am going to show them off in my Letter from my Studio this weekend. Sign up if you would like a sneak peek.

contemporary embroidery

SAL ~ The forest regenerates #3

Only a little bit of progress in my sewing this time. However, each stitch takes it one stitch closer to being finished! This is where I was last time:

Contemporary embroidery

This is where I am now:

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It’s almost like one of those old fashioned “Spot the Difference” cartoons! (Remember them…two almost identical drawings, and you had to find a certain number of things that had been changed or left out of one.)

I have been sewing though. I finished three little works that I have called the Jewelled-Sea series. I will post more about them at a later date.

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After sewing these I felt I needed to look after my hands a little, and give them a break from sewing. That’s one of the reasons why progress on the purple one has been slower.

There is a group of us who join in this Stitch-A-Long, organised by Avis. They do wonderful stitching, so do go and have a look at what they are doing. A couple have finished a work, so celebrate with them! Welcome back to Linda, and a warm welcome to Laura and Cathie, two new members of the group.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny,Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ,Jenny, Laura, Cathie, Linda

My reading for 2019

Finally, I got around to it. It has taken two months to tally up my 2019 reading. (I keep a record of each book I read.) 95 books.

I like to think about my favourite for the year, but choosing one, or even a couple, is always difficult. This year I have come up with a new category: The Books That Have Stayed With Me.

So, The Books That Have Stayed With Me from 2019, in no particular order, are:

Novels 

  • Beloved ~ Toni Morrison    Her writing of slavery and the ongoing trauma is powerful, disturbing and so beautifully written.
  • Bel Canto and Commonwealth ~ both by Ann Patchett   I didn’t want Bel Canto to end, partly because I knew that no good could come to many of the characters, and also because I wanted her beautiful writing to go on. Who knew that a book about a hostage situation could be so wonderful! Her words dip and soar across my mind and the point of view shifts seamlessly between characters. I was resistant to getting onto the Ann Patchett Bandwagon, but I am onboard, and loving the ride!
  • Exit West ~ Moshin Hamid   Two things stay with me. Firstly the intriguing idea of the portals opening to transport people to other places on the globe. Secondly, the premise of dystopian novels is usually based on the idea that when society collapses so too will all decency and humanity. Hamid doesn’t base his novel on that idea. While there are many examples of inhumanity, he writes of ways in which a future in a broken society may be built on generosity and a mingling of cultures.
  • The confessions of the Fox ~ Jordy Rosenberg    This book defies description. The best I can do is say it is a wild romp through the transgender world of the 18th century.

Memoir? Biography? Philosophy?

  • The trip to Echo Spring ~ Olivia Laing    Laing follows in the footsteps of six great American writers ~ Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Berryman, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway ~ who were all alcoholics. She looks at how their addiction influenced their writing. It doesn’t sound appealing, but if you know Laing’s work you will understand how attracted I was to her writing. (I loved To the River.) Like Morrison and Patchett, her writing moved easily between characters and across time, with jewels of writing. And I have a fascination for addiction.

“When the sun came out the cataracts of ice shone blue, sliver, grey, pewter and sandy brown, the colours entwined like marble.”

  • Insomniac City: New York, Oliver and Me ~ Bill Hayes    Another beautifully written book, which is as much about Hayes’ love for New York as his love for Oliver Sacks. The writing is an interweaving of stories of the chance encounters with New Yorkers ~ in taxis, subways, parks, bars ~ and his journal entries of his life with Sacks. He creates a very warm and charming view of people, an optimistic view. Sacks comes across as very sweet, innocent, shy, but with a ferocious brain.
  • The Art of Travel ~ Alain de Botton    The best way that I can encapsulate this book  is to say it is about artists, travel, art works, philosophy, writers, tourists all tied together by de Botton’s smooth writing and fascinating insights.
  • Dark Emu ~ Bruce Pascoe   Pascoe argues, quite successfully in my view, that Aboriginal people were not the hunter gatherers portrayed after white settlement, but instead had an extensive agricultural system, where they grew crops, stored grain, had aquaculture and managed game animals. And they did so in a way that was suited to the land, creating a fertile land. According to Pascoe, indigenous people were baking bread long before the agrarian revolution in the Middle East.

Graphic Novel

  • The Park Bench ~ Chaboute   What a sweet, moving novel this was, of a park bench and the people how interact on it and around it. It is the sort of story that graphic novels do so well.

 

Now it is over to you….any recommendations are most welcome. I do follow up on them. (For example, someone recommended Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy. The second book The Eye in the Door came so close to being on my list. Maybe it should be there, because I still remember how moved I was by the brutality inflicted onto conscientious  objectors in the First World War.) I couldn’t get some that were recommended.

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On an artistic note, I have been working on some more embroideries, these ones based on the sea. Tomorrow I am going to write about them in my Letter from the Studio. Sign up for the newsletter if you would like to know more about my art.

 

 

contemporary embroidery

SAL ~ The forest regenerates #2

Many apologies for this late Stitch-A-Long post…I think I must have inadvertently deleted Avis’s reminder email…..which also had the current links to others who are joining in. So, I will link back to my SAL post from last time. Your other option is to go to Avis’ post. As well as getting an up-to-date list, you can look at the lovely highlands landscape she is sewing. Do go and see what delightful personal stitching the other group members are doing.

And more apologies…there is not really a lot of progress in my work. The weather here has been very humid, which doesn’t make for easy sewing. And life has been busy.

And I was a bit stuck with how to deal with the bottom of the work, which meant I wasn’t sure how far down to take the couching, and what shape to make it. More of that in a moment.

Last time…

Contemporary embroidery

This time….

Contemporary embroidery

I think I know how I am going to deal with the bottom of the work. I knew this texture couldn’t continue to the bottom. Firstly because I want to create some idea of trees in a forest, and secondly because the work needed variety of stitch and colour.

I played around with some thoughts in my sketchbook, and will do an approximation of this idea. Tree trunks, probably in white/cream against a mottled darkish background to simulate undergrowth. It will trail off to the bottom right to provide another diagonal. Well, that’s the idea! I haven’t investigated the thread stash to see what I have that will work. Maybe next time…..

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Apologies again for not having the list of other members to link to. Again, here’s Avis’ blog.