Friday, August 10, 2018

piece of the pie

Hello friends,

It's so lovely to see you. How's your week been?

My week has been good mostly. And a bit of bad now that I think about it. And then some in the middle too.

Actually let's do this: if my past week were a pie - one piece would be dealing with matters of creativity, one piece would be the bleak never-endingness of winter, one would be the absolute joy of my studio, one piece would be worrying about the state of the world - droughts, bush fires, violence, poverty and cancer, one would be the routine, one would be the joys and stresses of parenting, one would be Bren and his bowl turning, one would be the garden and farm and one would be family and friends. After you lift those nine pieces from the pan, the bits that get stuck to the bottom, the crumbs, and the bits that fell off the spoon are all the other stuff that makes up a week in my life, the ups and the downs, the exciting and the mundane, and the other details.

So let's get to the photo a day, hey.

august four

Last weekend we stayed in the most beautiful house, with the most gorgeous views, on the side of a mountain. It was Jazzy's musical weekend and there were many, many drives to and from school, so we decided to stay somewhere near by. It's amazing what a difference a change of scene can do for the state of mind. As forest dwellers usually surrounded by trees, none of us could stop looking out of the windows and admiring the views and the ever changing weather conditions. 

We discussed changing our fireplace and heating set-up, incorporating a grey wall somewhere, the difference double glazing makes and how much easier it would be for the girls to live closer to their friends.

It was such a lovely break from the rhythm.

That mountain in the middle of the picture window is Hanging Rock.

august five

On Sunday afternoon we returned home, and even though we'd only been gone for three days I searched every plant and tree for movement and signs of spring. 

Look at that peony go!

august six

On Monday I spotted this little vignette on the kitchen table and it looked so wintry I just had to take a picture. From the middle in a clockwise direction; the first seven eggs of the new season in one of my farmer boy's turned wooden bowls, my scrappy sock blanket, Kath's salt pig, a bowl of native limes, two overripe avocados, another of Bren's bowls and a branch of Hebe from that morning's flower arranging class.



august seven

Late last week before we went away, I started to worry about the wintry mess the farm is in, how the rush of spring will soon be upon us, and how we know from past experience that the best way to greet it is with neatness and organisation. So we made a list and slotted jobs into days in the family diary.

I must admit that due to the most unpleasant weather over the past week, many of the jobs did not get done, however the cleaning of the greenhouse most certainly did.

On Tuesday we pulled everything out, we washed everything down, we oiled the table, we cleaned the windows, and then we neatly put a lot of things back.

It's almost time to start the spring planting.

august eight

Sometime early this week in-between splitting wood, hanging out the laundry and driving the girls to school, I had a bit of a crisis of creativity. It occurred to me that my only creative expression these days is knitting, and aside from the original choice of pattern and yarn, that sometimes feels a bit mechanical.

Watching Bren turning a round of wood into a bowl feels like something different. Each cut is a decision, each shape a design. It's like he's working with the wood, sometimes he is the in-charge and sometimes the wood makes it known that there is no choice. It's beautiful to watch him work, the shavings flying through the air and piling up like carpet under foot, the lines and markings becoming exposed, the knots taking charge, the final shapes always different.

As I type this I can hear the sound of the lathe from his studio. I look forward to watching him walk past my window when he's finished to come and show me what he's made. I love watching the bowls in his hands as he shows them to me and discovers them for himself, turning, noticing, acknowledging, learning.

And so it came to pass that I needed to push myself in a new creative direction.

And so one day, after I had driven the girls to school, I clipped a branch of eucalyptus leaves on the way into my studio and then sat down and drew it. And then painted it in for good measure.

It's been years since I drew and painted and the connections between my eyes, hands and brain are rusty to say the least but I pushed on regardless. Focusing on the shapes, on the negative and positive space, on the light and shadow, and trying my hardest to draw what I saw rather than what I knew. All those art school lessons came right back to me.

I drew the stem standing in a vase, lying on the bench and upside down. I shaded in pen, coloured in water-colours, and painted in acrylics.

I gave myself permission to be bad at something and not see that as a waste of time.

I challenged myself to try to return to the process once a day.

And after a few pages in my sketchbook something amazing happened. It felt like the creativity door in my brain opened up. I started noticing and looking at my life in a different way, I started dreaming up other unrelated creative projects, I started itching for time to knot and sew and design, I felt itchy with all the opportunities and options. 

That page of branch painting is from yesterday's session. It killed me a bit when my family told me it was great. They love me and want to encourage me, but it's not great. Not by a long shot. But it is great that I'm pushing through. Painting and smudging and trying to capture something. I'm a bit happy with that. 

august nine

I started reading People of the Book. I read March earlier this year and felt lucky to find this book in an op shop a few weeks ago. I'm about 100 pages in and so far I love the way the story is being told. It feels like a treasure hunt and I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads me to next. I'm not sure how I feel about the main character though, I hope she strengthens and develops.




august ten

Today. I always thought I'd sit in the window seat in my studio to write and read and knit, but so far I haven't, not even once. Mostly I find myself sitting in a chair in front of the big window with my knitting or computer on my lap. I do hope to find a little table to sit up at soon.

But in the meantime the window seat has become a display. Glass bottles of flowers and leaves, Bren's newest wooden bowls, my just cast off and just cast on socks, and up the other end books, and wool and paints and brushes.

I've still hardly moved anything into my studio in terms of furniture or art supplies. My usual pattern is crazy messy chaos and I'm desperate to keep things simple and clean in here. But I do love the look of a bit of crafty mess too: inspiring photos torn from magazines, bits of yarn in colour palettes I like, a tiny sweet posy picked from the garden, a reminder note in beautiful handwriting...I guess the key is to find a way to keep these items in a neatish way without drowning under the weight of their clutter. It might be time to pin things to the wall.

In any case there is just enough time to collect a load of wood before school so I must go.

But how about you?
How are you feeling creatively at the moment?
What's your favourite creative way to express yourself?
When was the last time you allowed yourself to be bad at something? Isn't it freeing?!
And just for fun, how would you divide your last week in terms of pieces in a pie?

I hope you have a gorgeous weekend friends. I hope it is filled with the perfect balance of productive and restful. 

See you next week!

Love,

Kate x




Friday, August 3, 2018

flat battery




Late last Saturday afternoon Bren and Pepper had lit a fire in the garden to burn some of the wooden off-cuts from the studio build, when I came out of the house and was struck by how beautiful the little scene looked in the last of the glowing winter's light. We had friends coming over any minute so I rushed inside to get my camera to capture the fire, and the smoke, and the light, and the two of them, before they arrived.

The first time I rushed outside ready to click I was dismayed to see that I'd forgotten my SD card. So I ran back inside, grabbed it, popped it in, and ran out to try again. Only to remember that my battery was in the charger. So I raced inside again, put the battery in the camera, and ran outside. Only this time I found that my camera wouldn't turn on. No digital readings or lights at all. I took the battery out and put it back in several times but no change. So with some concern I took it back inside and went outside to greet our friends.

On Sunday I put the battery back in the charger, saw that it was fully charged, tried to put it in my camera again a few times, but nothing happened.

By Monday when I was still putting the battery in and getting the same result, I started wondering if I would be able to blog this week and if in fact this might be a sign that I need to take a deep-winter break and come back when the mud has dried up and the sun has come out.

My camera was already old when I bought it second hand from a photographer five or six years ago but I am completely reliant on it and have never given any thought to replacing or updating.

On Tuesday I asked Bren about it and we spoke about the life-length of batteries and how I should really have a spare and that if I ordered one online it might just arrive before blog Friday. But I had a million things to do and couldn't be bothered researching models and shops, so I didn't.

On Wednesday he held my camera in his hands, popped the battery in and out a few times with no change, and then just as I was starting to think that all hope was lost, he looked logically and practically (his words not mine) at the camera and noticed that the SD card door wasn't closed properly. So he clicked it in and it all turned back on. Just like that. I still can't believe that I didn't notice that myself. But obviously I didn't.

There is no great message or moral to this story. I'm actually a bit unsure as to why I just spent so much time telling it, other than to explain why there aren't photos of my every-day this week. And because it's made me think about how much of a creature of habit I am, how much I distrust technology, how I'd be lost without a camera, how even though I ended up being completely present in that bonfire moment - I'm still disappointed that I didn't get any photos of it to post here, and how I guess I probably should look at getting some spare bits and pieces for future just-in-cases. Or a little point and shoot to keep in my bag.


So rather than the photo-a-day post I've been sharing lately, I thought I'd do a quick round up instead.

This past week I've been -

Photographing - my Merricks shawl, finally. Pattern by Kylie @WhiskyBayWoollens, yarn by Abbe @TheNobleFoxYarnCo

Cleaning the green-house getting ready for spring planting.

Listening - to the podcast The Teacher's Pet which is a terribly distressing and sad piece of investigative journalism, I'm almost up to date and completely hooked.


Knitting - these socks for the sixth or seventh time. I actually cast them off earlier in the week with bobbles at the top, but the bobbles stretched the cast off and they became baggy and so I had to pull them apart yet again and start something new. I'm pretty certain that these love hearts are it this time though. They kind of remind me of a sugar bowl we had growing up.

Learning - how to make tussie-mussies in our floral design class last Monday.


Reading - Susi Fox's book Mine.

Loving - every single second spent in my new studio. It's quiet and uninterrupted and heavenly.

Watching - season 2 of Glow.

Needing - to get something nice for all five of us to wear to a special birthday party soon and not knowing where to start.





Dreaming - of sunshine and warmth and blossom.

Looking forward - to Jazzy's school musical tonight.

Feeling - a bit like I've got a flat battery myself.

Wondering - if it'll snow tomorrow.

Apologising  - for this blog post and wondering if I should really take a winter blog break after all.


Hoping - that you'll leave me a little note and tell me a bit about what you're growing/knitting/watching/hoping/cooking/feeling/wearing...


Signing off until next week.


Love, Kate x



Friday, July 27, 2018

from my studio

Hello friends! I'm writing to you today from inside my studio!!!

Yesterday the boys did the last bits of work on her and then they packed up their tools and left. By the time I got home from having coffee with a friend in Macedon it was no longer theirs but mine. It's so funny how that happens: one minute the building site belongs to them and the next they knocked on the door to come and see what I was up to.

What I was up to was listening to Missy Higgins on my headphones, washing the place from top to bottom with a cloth and warm soapy water, and having a little cry at the enormity of it all. 

It feels HUGE! And to be honest I'm not even sure what I'll spend my time doing in here, other than being alone, and probably knitting, and drawing, and writing, and hopefully painting, and possibly embroidering, and reading, and drinking tea, and hiding from my family, and lying on the bed in the mezzanine watching the tops of the trees blowing in the wind, and not being distracted by the housework, and valuing my own creativity, and enjoying my own company; we'll see.

I can't begin to tell you how much I love it. I'm sitting here in my chair alternating between typing words and looking out the windows at the little yellow-breasted birds drinking the nectar from the banksia flowers and I'm making plans for all the things I want to do in here over the weekend. Starting with washing the windows and bringing some plants in.

Okay, so how's your week been?
Here's a bit of mine;


july 21

On Saturday Miss Pepper put the finishing touches on her skirt. It was a funny old sewing lesson considering I hadn't touched my machine for years and years and we probably made every single mistake there was to make, but we both learnt something from each of them and it all looked great and fitted well in the end and that's probably all that matters anyway. That and that she wants to have another go at it again soon.






july 22

On Sunday, just as the sun was setting, we walked into the forest to collect some kindling for the fire and to take some photos of the skirt she made and of the cardigan I knitted her.

Cardigan details here.



july 23

On Monday my mum and I attended the first of five introduction to floristry classes we signed up for at our local neighbourhood house. In the first class we talked a bit, learnt how to make a basic posy and made wreaths out of grape vines and wisteria. We both had such fun and are really looking forward to next week's class.

When I came home I pulled some tubs of stewed apple and plum I'd made last summer, pureed the fruit, poured the mixture onto sheets, popped it in the dehydrator and then cut it into strips and rolled them up for the girls' lunches.

Here's a blog post how-to I wrote a few years ago.



july 24

These mid winter days I find myself constantly hunting for signs of spring. The green tips of the jonquils gave me cause to squeal with delight one cold and frosty morning.

And while these are still not brilliant photos of farmer Bren's turned bowls, they give you an idea of how sweet they look sitting on the top shelf in the shed in their nest of wood shavings. I had to climb up a ladder and hang precariously off to one side to take those photos, hopefully I'll get some action shots of him making them for next week.



july 25

On Wednesday the boys sanded the floor and then built the little deck off the side of my studio. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look in a few weeks' time when the ornamental almond is in blossom, and then when the days warm up it'll be such a perfect spot to sit with a book.

july 26

And then yesterday the shelves went up around the window seat, the final shingles were nailed to the front and the studio was handed over.

Late last night I came in to make sure the heater was off. I climbed up to the mezzanine, laid down on the slats, watched the spot-lit tops of the trees in the forest and listened to the sounds of the night. I was there for quite a while before summoning up the energy to return to the chaos and the hormones and the craziness and the dramas of late Thursday night. When it gets warmer I think I might stay out there from time to time.






july 27

This morning we hung out in my studio for a while after the big girls had gone off to school with my mum. We climbed up and down the ladder, we lay on the mezzanine, we sat in the window box and we admired the light and where the shadows lay. 

There's still so much cleaning and wiping and dusting to do after the sanding settled a thick layer of dust on every surface, but I decided to put that aside for the weekend and to write my blog in here today instead. I'm well practised at looking past any urgent cleaning, so that part was easy.


Which brings me to now. To finish at the very same place that I started. Sitting on a chair, in my brand new studio, with my lap-top on my lap, typing words in between watching the world outside and the shadows dancing inside.

So far all that I've brought in here with me is the chair that I'm sitting on, my computer and charger, my card reader, the socks that I'm casting off and the swatch that I've just cast on.

It's 4pm and the winter sun has just disappeared behind the trees in front of me. It's my favourite time of the day to take photos mid-winter, but today I think I'll just sit here and watch.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend my friends.
I hope you've got a good book to cuddle up with, and a nice cozy spot to snuggle up in.
And something interesting to tell me. Go on?

Oh and she'll need to be named of course, any suggestions?

See you next week you guys.

Lots of love,

Kate
xx



Friday, July 20, 2018

deep dark winter

This is me right now. It's Friday afternoon, it's miserable and rainy outside, I'm wearing socks I knitted last year and although I have absolutely nothing to complain about, I'm feeling flat and a bit grumpy.

It's crazy what a hold winter has on me because despite the constant reminding myself of all the wonderful things going on in my life, I don't seem to have any control of my mood. It's deep winter, it's been days since we last saw any sunshine, and the arctic gale blasting outside is so icy as it pinches and whips.

It's tempting to make a list of my many blessings here in the hope that it will somehow tip my balance over into the happy, but the truth is that this blog is all about the seasons and the seasonal, and this it appears is my annual, seasonal reality.

So let's get on with the week shall we.


july 14

Last weekend we had some friends to stay on our farm and on Saturday they came up to our house with a bucket full of shakshuka and some Turkish bread and together we cooked and then sat around to eat. We knew these friends at school, we had our kids at the same time, and now here we are as families sharing stories and food all these years later. How wonderful that feels.

july 15

Bren has been turning bowls again. This latest batch are the size of salad bowls and they're incredibly beautiful. He makes the bowls from the wood while it's still green and he leaves the edges thick so that when they dry out he can put them back on the lathe and reshape them. I'll take some better photos for next week's blog so you can see the scale and the shapes.


july 16

On Monday I looked around my room at the piles of books and unfinished knitting projects and decided to make a bit of sense of it all before the big move into my studio in a few weeks time. I put books back up on the shelves, I folded up bits of material and I finished the last few rows of a few knitting projects, then I soaked them and blocked them.

It's crazy how I'm always in such a rush to cast on and knit a new project, but then I often leave them for dead so close to the finish line. 

Hopefully these two will be dry, photographed and worn before the weekend is through.


july 17

There's nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a book you really didn't like the tone of and starting something new and fresh. So far The Dry is everything I need in a book right now; it's engaging, entertaining, suspenseful, and steady paced, thank you Jane Harper.



july 18

On Wednesday Bren and Jobbo made one of my life-long dreams come true when they built me a window-box for my studio. It's incredible how much of a difference it's made to the space by framing the window and the view and inviting you to stop and sit. I imagine many a future blog post will be written in that new spot.


july 19

The power was out for most of the day yesterday so I planted seeds and split wood and the boys nailed shingles onto the front of my studio.

There's a small chance that by this time next week it will no longer be a building site but a small studio instead. Imagine that?!

july 20

The package full of yarn that I ordered full of typos last week arrived this morning. I think I'm going to use the yarn in the top photo to knit a Telija. But first I must finish those wine coloured socks. I pulled them apart twice more during the week. Once because the pattern I was knitting was driving me crazy and not at all fun to knit, and then again when I found a few mistakes. Fourth time lucky I'm going to knit them plain the whole way up to the cuff where I might do something fancy. Watch this space.

Which brings me to now and a little bit of surprise and relief that I managed to string all of those words together considering the grumpiness and the PMS and the rain. As soon as I've published I'll put some wood on both fires, hang out the washing, water my seeds, help Bren with the dinner and hopefully sneak in an episode of The Crown before the girls get home from school.

Hooray for the weekend!

Do you have anything fun planned?
Does your mood sometimes defy justification?
Do you know how much of a difference watching Glow on the iPad while running on the treadmill has made to my endurance?
Do you love peanut butter on corn crackers?
Do you know why our cat spends the day sleeping outside in the cold when she could easily sleep inside by the fire?
What else?

See you next week lovelies.

Love, Kate x






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