Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let's crochet a granny hottie!


I've got a great idea!

Somehow I've found myself in a bit of a crocheted granny-square, hot water bottle cover marathon, and before I get going on my fourth one, I thought you might like to play too.

We could have a bit of a granny-hottie-a-long. How fun does that sound, not to mention snuggly and warm too.

I'm sure you've got lots of stuff going on in your lives so we'll take it pretty slowly, maybe a step a week, and that way we'll all have lots of time to keep up.

What do you think? Are you in?


Just a few things before we get started;

Firstly, I'm going to assume a little bit of crochet knowledge here, but at any stage if you get stuck, or if you are crocheting for the first time, ask google, ask me, or ask in the comments and together I'm sure we can work it out.

Secondly, I'm going to be working in US crochet terminology.

Thirdly, I've been making these up as I go along, but if you feel like you'd like to change things up or do things your own way - go for it.

Yay!! Should we start?

The first thing we'll need to do is gather our supplies and the most important supply of all is YARN. I'm using 8ply wool left over from other projects. This is a wonderful way to use up all those rolly-polly odds and ends.


Next up we'll need a crochet hook. I'm using a 3.5mm because I like the size of the stitches it makes but feel free to experiment. We'll also need sharp scissors for snipping, a darning needle for those perky ends and a larger ball of wool for your main colour (i.e. the edging and neck). And of course we'll need a hot water bottle.

And now for the fun bit!!

Using your yarn and your crochet hook, hook up 24 granny squares using dc's and chains. Remember these granny squares are a bit mini so stop each one after three rounds. When choosing colours, be as wild or as monochrome as you like.

I like to crochet over the tail of the last colour I used as I go (there are plenty of tutorials online), but if that sounds too hard, don't worry about it at all.

I guess the other thing is joining as you go but I like to lay them out at the end and choose where each one will go before joining.

IMG_0576 And that's step one all done. Yay!

Let's meet back here next Tuesday for step two.

In the meantime we can chat about our granny hotties in the comments here, on Facebook here, and we can share photos on instagram using the hashtag #grannyhottie (I've checked - there are not hot grandma pics - it's safe).

I'm excited - let the grannie hottie begin!!

Just think how much your cold winter toes will love you.



Friday, July 25, 2014

Looking inwards

IMG_0290 IMG_0289 IMG_0286 IMG_0294I guess it's interesting, but probably not all that surprising, that so many of us are feeling the same way in this political, global, humanitarian point in time. After my Mum proof read my blog the other day we discussed what I would do if people left aggressive or negative comments. Would I delete them, respond to them or just leave them there as part of the conversation but try not take them to heart.

I often worry about responses to my more personal posts, but thankfully this time I needn't have. Thankfully there was not one single #firstworldproblem type comment, nothing angry or bitter and nothing that I had to worry about letting into my heart. If anything it made me feel better knowing that I wasn't all alone.

So with the knowledge that we are so many of us feeling a bit off balance at the moment, I thought I might share a technique that my Chinese doctor taught me, a way to find my centre and move forward.

This practise works well when you do it several times throughout the day. For me it works to attach it to something I do regularly but not too often, I do it when I check my Fitbit.

Every time I check how many steps I've walked so far, maybe six or seven times a day, I stop where I am, close my eyes if I can, focus inwards, take a few big deep breaths, scan my body and state of mind and then I ask myself;

How am I feeling?

I give myself a quick, one word answer. Nothing complicated, just a word that describes the way I'm feeling in my body or in my state of mind. Words like peaceful, anxious, inspired, stuck, restless, sensitive, motivated, stretched, strong, teary, chaotic, concerned, powerless, loved and lucky are some of those that have come up for me over the past few months.

And then straight away I asks myself;

What do I need?

Again just a quick one or two word answer is all that I am looking inwards for. Quiet, direction, light, exercise, peace, colour, time, patience, order, acceptance, space, a house in the tropics, strength, resilience and kindness come up for me often.

I have no answers to the hardest questions, but this little practice helps give me clarity and direction. A few extra tools in my toolbox to help me move on and live a creative, soul filled life instead of falling in a heap too often.

I hope you have a colourful, love filled weekend honey bunches.



Gloves (pattern and details Ravelled here) swapped for beautiful beakers by Adriana Christianson.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Unanswerable questions

IMG_0349 IMG_0339 IMG_0327 IMG_0355 IMG_0348 IMG_0336 IMG_0321 The truth is I'm struggling. I feel heavy and close to tears and not quite right a lot of the time. Since the drama with my left breast at the start of the year I've gotten quite good at staying focused on the good in my world, at counting my blessings, at surrounding myself with kindness and protecting myself. But over the past little while the big wide world has snuck in with its frosty tentacles and weighed me down like a rock. I feel terrible and don't know what to do about anything.

How can I explain to our children that we expect them to behave with kindness and compassion to their fellow human beings, when our country's leaders often do not?

How can I listen to global stories of horror and atrocity and not take them personally?

How can I keep up with the wars and the bombings and the treatment of people less fortunate than ourselves without it making me sick?

How can I come to terms with the fact that we are just so incredibly lucky, without the guilt that attaches itself to that feeling?

How can I complain about head-lice, about the crazy cold, about the mess and about not sleeping at night, without feeling petty?

How can I be a human being and not imagine myself in the place of the hungry and the desperate and the terrified?

How can I switch off from all the big bad news as a fellow member of the human race?

How do I make sense of war, of refugees, of poverty, of the death of innocent children and parents and grandparents to my kids, when I cannot even come to terms with it myself?

I have no answers right now, only more and more questions.

For now I can only keep breathing, keep looking after my crew and holding them tight and keep growing awesome food.

And counting my blessings. Often.

Big love my friends, and peace.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Australian Sheep and Wool Show

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How do I write a blog post about something I've written about four times before?

How can I explain the feelings of excitement and love and passion that come up for me when I am surrounded by so much of what I love?
How can I describe in words that feeling of being overwhelmed with inspiration? Of so many plans and ideas and thoughts that start in my tummy and travel upwards until they makes me feel like I'm going to explode? Like I have to get started. Like I have to do all the things, all at once.

How on earth can I explain an event that is a tactile and aromatic and visual explosion?

How can I explain to you just how wonderful it feels to be surrounded by people who LOVE what you love and want to show you, and teach you, and talk to you about it for as long as you do?

How can I make you feel the wonderful feelings that go with bumping into friends who love what I love, friends who open up their bags to share their purchases and stoke mine adoringly, friends who admire my knitted shawl and show off their own, friends who invite me to spinning club and gorgeous friends who go home and send me a ravelry pattern because I said I loved it and had queued it.

IMG_0311How on earth can I get you to understand why there were cute little bags of horse hair for sale if I couldn't work it out for myself? Apparently people stuff mattresses with horse hair, but those sweet little bags....no idea.

IMG_0306How could I explain to you my surprise at unpacking farmer Bren's backpack at the end of the day to find everything I'd bought was navy blue or charcoal? How strange and not at all planned.

And how can I even remember to record all the different aspects of wool craft that I need to put on my to-do list from owning our own sheep all the way through to dyeing, spinning, weaving and knitting socks.

Apparently I can't. You can read my posts from the past few years here and here and here and here where for some reason I was more eloquent. Or, maybe, you could just close your eyes for a second and imagine yourself at a show that celebrates everything you love, in every detail, in all its glory.

What would that look like for you I wonder?

Go gently my friends, I hope your weekend is filled with your blessings.

Big love


Thursday, July 17, 2014


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This afternoon it snowed. Not a lot, not for very long and certainly not as much as last year, but still white, fluffy snowflakes fell from the sky. And for a little while everything felt quiet and still and right with the world.

I was home alone which was weird. I wandered around the garden for a bit, shrieked and whooped to no one at all and then I did a silly little dance because I felt like I should. After it slowed down, I raced back inside to warm my frozen toes.

And as I sat there by the fire defrosting and scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, it occurred to me that snow really is magical. My feeds were completely full of snow stories and announcements and photos. For half an hour or maybe even an hour, our little part of the world had forgotten about politics and war, anniversaries of sadness and the death of a pet bunny, and instead we were celebrating the white stuff.

It was exciting and exhilarating and cold.

I'm told we might even get more tomorrow. Yay!

The wind is howling outside here, I'm going to take my book into the bath.

Oh and I almost forgot, my photo made it onto The Age website, YAY!

Stay warm my friends. Or keep cool as the case may be.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Slow Living : A Practical Workshop

To create good content you have to live good content.

Beth Kirby, otherwise known as Local Milk, wrote that and it's absolutely perfectly true, don't you think.

This September Beth, together with Luisa Brimble and Rebekka Seale will be coming to Melbourne, to Butterland, to run a two-day, Slow Living workshop exploring creating content through food, florals, photography and textiles.

Oh. My. Goodness!! It's the dream team running a total dream-come-true workshop.

This is the little blurb on their booking site;

During our time together, we will explore the process of living the content you want to create. The first day, we will delve into the natural dye process using local, foraged plants and flowers to brighten rustic kitchen linens, and the second day we will bake wholesome pastries together. Afterward, on both days, we will workshop styling, photography, and visual story telling with the dyed textiles, flowers, baked goods, tea, and coffee. Participants will receive focused, personalized guidance in photography & styling—we will touch on camera basics, building a portfolio, creating a social media presence that resonates, prop sourcing, how to write a pitch & get published, planning photo shoots, post-processing, and more—as well as learn the practical skills of dying, floral arranging, and baking. We will share morning and afternoon teas, lunch each day, and one very special dinner. 

If you, like me, drool over these three women's instagram feeds, if you, like me, are always wanting to learn everything there is to learn about textiles and flowers and baking and styling and photography, if you, like me, would love an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the best in the biz, if you like me, cannot think of anything better than spending a few days away from home surrounded by utter beauty and like minded folk...then this is for you. It's for us. Let's go!

I've been given a ticket to the workshop but I really, really would love for some of you guys to come along and sit next to me, it'd make it so much more fun. Let's go together!

Check out Local Milk for even more gorgeous photos and details about The Slow Living Workshop here.

And book your tickets to the Melbourne workshop here.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!!!!! It's going to be so wonderful, I can hardly wait.

Thanks Beth and Luisa for the photos. x

I hope you get loads done today my friends, our girls are back at school and I've got mountains of stuff to catch up on.

Big love


Sunday, July 13, 2014

the strangest meal

I still get so excited when I see my work published in a magazine. I mean it's one thing to write and photograph stories for my own blog, but it's something else entirely when an editor or publisher chooses me. It feels validating, like I'm on the right track. I love it.

Last week the winter edition of Slow Living Magazine came out and along with a story I wrote and shot about life on our farm in The International Year of Family Farming.

There is also a story about my sister Meg and her bike riding, foraging, adventuring family,

A story written and photographed by friends of ours Sahm and Andrew about locals Wayne and Chris.

IMG_0262And one of my favourite photos I've ever taken of my farmer boy's hand holding a tomato he just picked on the editorial page. Yay!

Of course Slow is filled with loads of other articles written, shot and about amazing people and places that have nothing to do with me too.

Before the magazine went to print Tim Baker, the editor, sent out an email asking all the contributors to write a three or four line bio that included a brief description of who we are and what we do, followed by an account of the strangest meal we've ever consumed and our current favourite dish.

Mine never made it into the magazine so I thought I'd include it here;

Kate Ulman is an organic farmer, mother of three and wife to her handsome farmer boy. One Autumn evening a few years ago while they were walking around their farm admiring, discussing and smelling the soil, Farmer Bren suggested she have a taste. She hesitated, but then wondered who was she to question her husband's precious soil, his life's passion. So she ate a bit. It tasted like gritty earth. Luckily it grows the most gorgeous fruit and veggies, including the Mutzu apple which is her favourite fruit in the world.

I hope you are having a glorious, slow weekend folks, and if you have the time I'd love to hear about the strangest meal you've ever eaten and/or your current favourite dish. It's such an interesting one.

Big love!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

knits and knots and natters

The other day I went looking for a bag of green flecked wool that I knew I had but couldn't remember where I'd put. I searched high and then I searched low and found it under my bed with a bunch of other bits and pieces of the woolly persuasion including the start of a granny hottie that I hooked up last year. Fancy that! I fully remember making that red one but I wonder why I started and then stopped this green one. I'd better finish it off don't you think.

After I found the green wool I cast on some Emerald Fingerless Mittens to swap with a potter for some beakers. It feels a bit funny to be making something for someone I've never even met in real life but a bit fun all the same. I hope she likes them.

In the middle of all this I turned around in my desk chair one day and contemplated the stacks of vintage sheets that I have been collecting but neglecting for years. Piles of them all neatly folded and colour coded. I thought about cutting out and sewing a dress for someone but it's not really sundress weather. So I pulled some down, tore off some 3cm lengths, found a 10mm hook, crocheted a 26 chain stitches and started a rag rug.

The beginning was quick and fun but then it started hurting my hands and curling up at the edges so I took a break. It's so cold and there's so much knitting to be done that I can't really afford to hurt myself right now. Or ever. I think I've got a 15mm hook around here somewhere that might help  to make it looser and easier.

If you were an oversized crochet hook where would you hide from me?

The minute before I put my rag rug aside to rest it occurred to me that my time would probably be better spent making something woolly and wearable. In these crazy cold days something that protects against the chilliness must be valued higher than something pretty, every single time.

So I systematically searched through my stash, found three bandless balls of something that looked 12plyish, found a pattern on Ravelry, swatched and cast on. And despite the fact that Indi said I would never wear that colour, I knitted on.

It was a quick knit and after about two nights I found myself nearing the end of the first ball which in turn made me happy and then concerned. Happy because I could imagine myself wearing my thick, cuddly cardi by the end of the week. And then concerned because there was no way I was a third of the way into the knit and yet here I was a third of the way into my wool.

That's when I realised I had underestimated the amount of yarn I would need. And I got out the kitchen scales and weighed it all up and realised that I was right, I was way under. Oops. I'm so used to knitting 8ply that I had forgotten that the same weight of 12ply would give me less length. And being wool from the Bendigo Woollen Mills back-room I knew there wasn't much chance of getting any more. Bum!

After that I knitted up some Small Fry Fingerless gloves for Pepper. Look at her cute little meditation hands.

Next up is socks. Wish me luck.

IMG_0214 Or maybe I'll have to put all that on hold to knit with the smooshiest yarn ever that just arrived in Jodie's Jellywares Winter yarn club. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Decisions. Decisions.

So that's me all caught up creatively.
How about you? What've you been up to?

I hope you're feeling inspired and creative. I hope you've got a fun project on the go.



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