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How does my garden grow?

Today thousands of people around the country are marching to demand safer places for women to work, walk and live in, demanding that we be listened to and that things change. Revelations of rapes and sexual assaults in our federal parliament have, rightly, dominated discussions everywhere, except, it appears, in the Cabinet rooms of the Prime Minister and other Ministers.

I do not want to trivialise this issue by talking about my garden. However, the right of all women to feel safe and blossom is such an important issue that I can’t do it justice at the moment, but I am standing alongside of all those who are marching. I may write more later.

If you are interested in knowing more, you can read here.


So, how does my garden grow? Last time I wrote about it I described it as ‘floriferous’; today my adjective would be ‘bedraggled’. I can’t even blame a blistering Summer, as it is has been the coolest Summer for 17 years. So, let’s put it down to not being able to move as easily as I have in the past. Over the past few months I have been doing what I can, and accepting that I can’t do everything. I am moving more freely now and able to do more, so Autumn should see good results.

Things have survived in the front yard. Do I remember me telling you how I was changing to native plants? They seem to have survived, and will hopefully bulk up more over time. I have planted a couple more plants, and started to put some in pots. The pots have the added bonus of giving height to the ‘design’ (😂🤣😂) as the other things are rather low growing.

(Would you like to know why I have a pot of feathers there too? Well, I will tell you all about it in the next Letter from My Studio. Sign up for it here.)

I planted out some petunias, hoping they would take over the front of the front. Instead I have this stunted little thing. 😩 The flower is almost bigger than the plant!

Some parts still happily do their own thing, with only a little repotting and cutting back from me. And the bees love the salvia.

We are changing our composting system. We have been using those round compost bins that lurk at the bottom of many people’s gardens. In it I would put bigger kitchen scraps, garden clippings and Autumn leaves. Maintaining the bins (ie stirring them) has been at the bottom of my To Do List for quite a while, leading me to shut the lid very quickly every time I would dump the kitchen waste.

We also have a worm farm. And a council green bin that takes food scraps.

It’s obvious that the new plan is to ditch the compost bins, use the worm farm for smaller kitchen waste and put the rest into the green bin. We can get compost from the council when we need it.

Today I gave the worm farm a much needed clean out. I now have a couple of tubs of well developed castings to be spread around the garden…..so that maybe the adjective I will use next time to describe my garden will be ‘floriferous’ again! 😊

SAL

Apologies for not getting this post out yesterday. For some reason it slipped by.

Last time I had just begun the sampler wheel from Cathy Reavy’s videos, having done the preparation. This is where I was up to:

This is where I am now:

I am enjoying it, working at my own pace, learning new stitches. The sections are just the right size to practice the them. Most of them are new to me, so I am including a guide to them and links to Cathy’s excellent videos.

Of course the centre is made of French knots. I used two threads of different thicknesses to get the more textured look.

  1. Palestrina knot stitch

2. Drizzle stitch

3. Pistil stitch

4. Bullion knot

5. Coral knot stitch

6. Cast on stitch

7. Colonial knot

8. Bullion knot rose (isn’t this one pretty?)

Thanks for dropping by. There are other very talented stitchers who are part of this Stitch A-Long. Check them out and enjoy their work simply by clicking on the links below.

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

My collage paintings

Firstly, big virtual hugs and kisses to you all, for letting me know that you are thinking of me. You make blogging and connecting a joy. I am doing well, with only a little stiffness, and my energy levels are okay. I have even been making lists, a sure sign that I am getting back to normal.

Secondly, my art work.

I can’t remember what I have told you, so let’s go back a little.

I did an online course with Tara Axford during our first lockdown last year, maybe in April? One of the many things I learnt and loved was collaging. The loving part was a very nice surprise. In our second Melbourne lockdown we could only leave home for 4 reasons; one was exercise within a 5km radius. I spent a lot of time down at my local urban wetlands and the reeds and reflections fascinated me.

Collaging and wetlands came together.

Then I found out I had been accepted to have an exhibition at the Old Auction House in Kyneton. How exciting it that! August is still a way off, but it seems to be approaching at a rather quick pace. I am building up a body of collages to exhibit.

So far I have worked on two series.

The first is of the wetlands. Some are abstract reinterpretations.

Some are more realistic.

Then I decided to switch my focus to rock pools.

Over Christmas I was lucky enough to spend time at my sister’s beach house at Somers. Somers beach has the most amazing rock pools, with colours that took my breath away. And just happened to be the colours I have been using. How could I not be smitten by something like this?

Most of the time I can tell whether the collage has worked or not. There is something that makes me smile and feel satisfied. I don’t get that feeling from the rock pools I have done so far.

The last one is the only one that resonates. For me the first two are neither realistic nor abstract enough, neither one nor the other. I would love to know what you think.

I am not giving up on the rock pools. I need to loosen up, to let go of the detail until the last; not try to recreate them as they are, instead let the paint and shapes tell me what to do.

As for the painting, all of these have been ‘painted’ with an old credit card, which I use to scrape the paint across the paper. There is little control, but wonderful effects. Then I cut out the shapes that I see in the paint. Simple and works for me!

Resuming transmission, I hope

I have been a very poor correspondent over the last few months. If it wasn’t for the SAL deadlines, I wouldn’t have been posting at all. And a couple of those posts were rather skimpy. However, I have a good excuse…..

Early in December my neck and hips started to feel very stiff and sore, and then it got worse over the month. Not really painful, but doing simple things, like turning over in bed, bending over, sitting down, were really difficult. It was worse in the morning.

Eventually, after expecting it to go away, and throwing Christmas and New Year into the time mix, I had blood tests which showed high levels of inflammation. My GP was really supportive, and started me on medication that helped, almost overnight.

This week I saw a rheumatologist, who diagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica. It is an inflammatory condition which, fortunately, is treatable. It may take time but the medication should get the immune system and inflammation under control. So, good news!

The best way to describe it to you is to say that many, many, moons ago I went rock climbing with my brother. Oh boy, were my thigh muscles stiff over the next few days! I remember how difficult it was to climb the stairs at work, and at one stage had to go up backwards. My legs just didn’t want to work. Through December my muscles seemed to be saying, “Nup, we’re not moving.” They were stiff and sore. Trying to make them move was a little painful, but overall the pain level was quite low.

I mention this because I know there are many people, including some of you, who suffer high levels of pain over months and years. What I have experienced has not been at that level, but it has given me more insight into how difficult life can be for many. I applaud you for your courage and resilience.

Getting the diagnosis confirmed how important it is to have someone say “This is what you have, this is how we can deal with it”. Before the diagnosis there were a number of possibilities which I brooded on, playing out scenarios in my mind, having imaginary conversations, scrolling through websites and Youtube videos. None of that was helpful. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but I was impatient to know. My mind tried to come up with its own solutions, but all it was doing was being a hamster on a wheel. However, now I know which way I am facing I know which direction to go in.

It is a relief to get out of my own head!

There seem to be many chronic conditions that are difficult to pin down. And that’s assuming you have a supportive medical professionals who believe you. And access to specialists and the various tests needed. So again, I really feel for people who have had to fight to get the correct diagnosis, people who have not only had to deal with what their own bodies are throwing at them but battling to be heard by others.

I am grateful for so many reasons.

Now, to end on a different note. Even when I was chatting to you on a more regular basis, I hadn’t mentioned much about my art. I am going to leave you with a gallery of my collages, with the promise that soon I will tell you more about them. However, if you can’t wait for that post sometime in the future, you can sign up for my newsletter. This weekend I am going to write about how my collages are rather like jigsaw puzzles. [You can sign up here.]

ScrapHappy February

Some people are such generous souls, and my friend Kate is one of these. She has created a quilt, a table runner and a cushion as prizes for a raffle. The money raised goes to Days for Girls, an organisation that gives menstrual health solutions to girls around the world so that they are able to attend school. The information to buy the tickets is on her blog. Head over there to find out how to win a beautiful quilt for a worthy cause.

talltalesfromchiconia

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

And here it is, the third and final piece of the prize trio I’ve made from the Days for Girls scraps. You’ve seen the completed cushion cover (third prize), and more recently the completed Days Gone By hexie quilt (first prize), but I’ve finally got the table runner finished as well, the second prize. This piece uses up the very last flower, the absolutely last hexagon made for the fundraiser. Metres and yards of perfectly usable and useful fabric saved from landfill.

The backing for this table runner is made from offcuts of the backing I made for the quilt, itself made from leftovers in my…

View original post 546 more words

SAL

For this Stitch-A-Long I am starting something new, something quite different to my other creations.

It is a stitching sampler that I saw on Margaret’s (quite inspirational) blog. However, the original idea and subsequent instructions come from Cathy Reavy. Her Youtube channel has all the instructions for this Stitch Wheel.

The sampler is in the form of a wheel divided into sections. Each ring has a theme of stitch types, and each section in that ring showcases a different stitch. The middle of the circle and the next ring are all about different knots. While I am not up to filling those in yet, I have watched Cathy’s videos and am looking forward to getting going.

A couple of things have slowed down progress. Firstly I had to hunt to find a 10″ frame. The January sales saw a run on crafty things, including these hoops. Then I followed Cathy’s instructions to bind the sections of the hoop. I am not usually good with preparation like this, preferring to jump right in.

The second road bump was that I originally chose a backing material with a weave that was too open. I finished all the lines and decided I didn’t like it, and that I didn’t like the thread I had used. The photo shows that first material with the erasable lines marked in.

So, second go. I am much happier with the material and the thread. The stitch is a split back stitch. Once the lines are finished I will go over the rings with a whip stitch….so still a bit of stitching to go before I get to the French knots in the centre.

From the comments in my last SAL post it seems like some of you might be interested in taking up embroidery. If you are, then I would recommend Cathy’s sampler wheel. Her videos are very good, and she clearly demonstrates each stitch. She even gives left-handed stitching a go!

I am part of a group of stitchers who show their personal work in this three weekly stitch-a-long. There is an amazing array of wonderful work, so do have a look by following the links. I am sure there will be something there to inspire you.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

SAL

My mind and energies have been elsewhere these last few weeks, so there hasn’t been any sewing. Instead I am taking an easy option.

Last time I showed you the embroideries I had been sewing as Christmas presents. From the comments you seemed to like like them. As many of you enjoy embroidering I thought you might like to know the stitches I used. The inspiration came from the work of Melissa Wastney.

The stitches are very simple and ones that you will know.

I started with the centre. It was made with large chain stitches, lying next to each other.

The petals are created in stem stitch. The uneven lengths give the flowers charm. I think the flowers work best in bold, jewel-like colours.

The leaves and stems are in feather stitch. To make the ‘leaves’ work, you have to start away from the flower and then work your way towards them. The threads were either in variegated green, two strands, or an olive green, one strand.

Lastly, the little French knots at the end of the leaves. While these are not botanically correct(!), I feel that they finish off the stem. Without them it sort of looks empty.

Maybe next time I will have some new stitching to show you. In the meantime do look at the work of the other stitchers. They all do such wonderful work, and such a variety of things.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Off the radar

I have been pretty quiet on WordPress for the past few weeks. There are medical issues that I am resolving. Nothing life threatening, but I need to get the issue sorted. So I thought I would just drop in and let you know I was still around 😉. And to let you know that I am reading your blogs, even if I don’t comment. [No need to comment here; I know that you would be wishing me well, because that’s the sort of person you are!]

SAL

I hope your holiday time was as pleasing as mine. It is Boxing Day today, and I am down at my sister’s beach house. We are sitting around, some are watching the Boxing Day Test at the MCG (a cricket match for those who don’t know ~ probably most of you!). I am getting organised, writing this Stitch-A-Long post to send off tomorrow.

Last time I showed you the gifts I was making for presents. Now I can show you, and tell you that they were received with delight.

This was to become a bag for Mum.

The backing material of the embroidery was linen, and I didn’t think about how bulky it would be when drawn. However, I am sure Mum will find something special to put into it. In my stash I found some pretty green cotton to make the lining.

The other stitching was to make a set of cards for Judy, my sister. She is one of those wonderful people who always remembers birthdays and sends cards. She said that these were too lovely to send, but I am sure she will find some special people.

I made some extra cards for a couple of friends.

It is so nice to be able to give the gift of hand made.

This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks (even over Christmas!) to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Can you help?

I know that you smart, talented and generous readers will be able to give me directions to my problem, especially those of you who sew clothes.

A year or so ago I made my elderly Mum this top. We had a lovely day choosing the pattern and material, and I enjoyed sewing. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right pattern to choose, and was way too big on Mum. She has always been petite and become more so as she has aged.

She loves the fabric, enjoys the idea of wearing garments that are not Little Old Lady Clothes. I think most of all though, she loves it because it was something we did together.

So she has asked me to make it smaller, which is where I need your advice. I can see two options.

  1. to take it in under the armholes and down the side. Would this create problems with the way the top hangs?
Obviously the seams would be way more symmetrical than I have managed to draw onto the photo!

2. to take it in down the middle, back as well as front, of course. While this option is the most fiddly (I would have to rebind the neck and redo the hem) I feel that the top will sit better on her. Also, the neck is very wide, and this option will reduce that.

However, I would like to know what the more experienced among you think. Is there an option 3? Any thoughts?