Friday, September 28, 2018

spring equinox

One day last April I woke up and realised that I wasn't a knitter any more. It had been ages since I'd had that obsessive excited feeling over knitting, it felt like forever since I'd sat down to knit a few rows and when I finally had a look at my Ravelry project page I saw that I'd only knitted two things all year - a beanie and a sweater. I looked up from my computer and around at all my wool and decided that I'd better give it away to someone who would love it as I had. It made complete sense. It was in my past, I didn't even question it.

But then I never got around to sending it away because I had another love back then that was taking up all my thoughts and love and daylight hours.

Last season from about October to May I was OBSESSED with growing flowers. I learnt about them, I thought about them, I grew them, picked them and I sold them. Flowers were my one true love and there was no room for another. The colours, the textures, the shapes and the scents filled me right up.

We had a pretty incredible first season as flower growers, we made mistakes, we made a lot of it up as we want along and we created something so incredibly beautiful. The flower garden got me up each morning and the work kept me going all day long until it got dark.

And late at night when we finally came inside my poor hands were tired and sore and I hardly even thought about knitting. So I didn't.

We farmed like that until late May when the frosts came and wiped our flowers out and we left the flower patch and didn't really go back. I occasionally visited to tidy things up but in general it was too cold and I used the short daylight hours over winter to tend to the veggie patch and that was about it.

So after the long hours of the growing season grew short, I went inside and started knitting again. In my memory it was pretty sudden but I can't be sure that it's true. I made slippers, a shawl and some hats, I made a cardigan, some squares and lots of socks. And over the months as the knitting on my needles grew so did my obsession with it. I trawled Ravelry for the perfect pattern, I followed hash-tags and joined knitting groups and instead of giving all my yarn away I bought more. The knitting filled me up and kept my mind ticking at night. I fell in love with cables and colour-work and the hunt for the perfect cardigan.

A couple of weeks ago, deep into knitting time,  a friend asked me about the dahlia tuber order that I placed last April. I told her that I couldn't imagine thinking I'd need so many. I told her I thought I might just buy half or a quarter of what I'd ordered and just pop them in the veggie garden instead. Would I really even grow flowers on such a large scale again? Did I really once identify as a flower farmer?

Last Sunday was the spring equinox, one of the two days a year when the hours of darkness and light are exactly equal, all around the world.

And then over the past week since I have felt that things are changing again. Like I'm being pulled in a different direction. The days have been warmer and the light has been brighter.

Last Monday I spent the day mowing, on Tuesday I planted seeds in the greenhouse, on Wednesday we picked huge bunches of daffodils and tulips and anemones, and on Friday I weeded and mulched and started cleaning up the flower patch. Each night this past week when we came inside and I sat on the couch, despite my sore hands, I felt like I was speeding through my rows of knitting, like I was in a hurry.

And judging by the past few seasons I think that I probably am in a knitting hurry. I need to finish the cardigan I'm knitting for me and knit another whole promised cardigan for Indi before the balance tips the other way again and I am no longer a knitter for another flower season. It's still so hard to imagine but I feel it will soon be true.

So tell me about your seasons friends, have you noticed that change is a coming?
Do you find yourself giving up one love to make room for another?
Do you find yourself forgetting the past you only to meet it again several months later?
Why oh why is there never enough time for everything?

It's six o'clock here and it's getting dark, it's time to head inside now from my studio to light the house fire. After a few warm days, it's going to get chilly over the weekend.

See you next week lovely ones.
Be kind to each other and yourselves.

Lots of love, Kate x

Friday, September 21, 2018

when the wattle is golden

This morning on the drive home over the mountains and through the forest, I thought about the last two weeks, and my blog, and the sort of things I could write about today. The light was streaming in through the trees, Indi was playing music, we stopped once to watch a pair of orange billed white ducks fossicking on the roadside, and then we pointed out baby lambs in paddocks, brightly coloured camellia and rhododendron bushes, and she told me random details as she remembered them from her past few days. Some of her last as a school girl.

For the best part of the past two weeks I have been living in someone else's house, at the base of another mountain, feeling like my own life is on hold.

As a family we decided that for our Indi's last two weeks of proper school, two weeks that were filled with early morning and late night classes, assessments every day and a never ending to-do list, we would stay in a house away from our home. A house ten minutes away from her school which is usually an hour away. To cut out the long commute, to give her more time for study, more time for sleep and easier access to teachers and odd hours.

And over the past two weeks Pepper came and went back home for school and activities, Bren came and went for work and to look after Pepper, and Jazzy and Indi lived there. They ate and slept and worked and played guitar and sang and had friends over and went to school and came home.

As for me, for two weeks I feel like I have driven girls back and forth so many times that I felt dizzy. I have smiled at crazy cackling laughter and comforted through many tears. I have cooked, I have listened, I have edited, I have pep-talked, I have worried and I have celebrated, I have been so in tune with other people's emotions that I put my own on hold.

And while I had some wonderful times: a whole day off alone with Bren away from the farm, a night of knitting with my wonderful friend Elizabeth, a two day visit from my mum...for the most part I felt like I was living some sort of alternate life. Like the life I was living wasn't really my own. Cooking meals from shop bought ingredients that I have in my pantry and garden at home, spending all of my time inside with no farm to tend or forest to walk, watching the television at night for company, no wifi and terrible phone reception, being on standby at all hours of the day, not knowing a soul in the supermarket or cafe, and missing my home and my people.

It didn't feel like my usual life and yet it wasn't a holiday either; so weird.

But it was a blessing to be able to do it for my girl and we all agreed that it was hugely successful. Exactly what we'd hoped for happened. We might even do it again in her exam week.

And as I drove home up the driveway this morning through a blaze of golden wattle, it occurred to me that I don't really have a lot to blog about this week. I haven't had any major revelations, I haven't finished a book or a knitting pattern or harvested anything from the garden. But our big girl was sitting in the car across from me smiling. She's got two months until her final year of high school exams are over. And when she's smiling my whole world is filled with sunshine, so I'm smiling too.

I'm so happy to be home.

I hope you're happy to be wherever you are my friends.
Have you finished anything this past week? A book, a project, a crop?
Have you felt like you've given your life over to someone else recently?
Are you thanking goodness for the weekend?

Big love to you wherever you are.

Love, Kate x

Friday, September 14, 2018

filling my cup

Yesterday in the morning I was sitting with Indi in a very busy cafe in a town near her school. She was sipping juice and typing on her computer, I was drinking coffee and knitting socks, while all around us sat clusters of women and their small children.

After a while a couple came in and sat at the table next to us. They ordered breakfast and drinks and while they were waiting he read the newspaper and she pulled some orange speckled thread and a long circular knitting needle out of a bag and started to count and cast on stitches.

Straight away I knew that we would be friends. Without a doubt in mind I knew that by the time we parted we'd have swapped all kinds of practical and intimate details. I didn't try to hide my stare but I did wait to question her about her pattern until she'd finished casting on.

And that's exactly what happened. She was knitting triangles to sew into a blanket, the yarn was from her grandmother's stash, some of the old wool is hard now but she hoped it will soften with a wash, her mother has dementia and one day woke up and forgot how to sew but still loves to knit, her mother and her friends are knitting squares to sew into blankets, she spends a lot of time sitting by her mother's bedside knitting, she'd love to learn to knit two socks at a time...She also told me some personal stories that I don't feel comfortable publishing here. And I answered her questions and told her a bit about me and mine.

And then they left the cafe and left me with such a warm glowing feeling of understanding and being understood, of community, and appreciation that spending time with someone with a shared love brings.

Later that afternoon when I was thinking about that feeling it occurred to me that I'd just experienced a miniature version of what I'd felt at The Craft Sessions last weekend.

From the minute I realised I was packing more yarn and needles into my bags than clothes and shoes, to  the crafty conversations in the car on the way there with my friend Elizabeth, to the familiar crafty faces that greeted us on our arrival, to the rainbow of hand knitted sweaters that were worn proudly every day and exclaimed over continuously, to the couches and tables and chairs and beds filled with knitters and crocheters wherever you looked, to the conversations, to the teachers, to the classes, to my new was obvious that I was in the right place. I was among my people, my community.

On Friday I did a darning class which I don't have any pictures of unfortunately.

On Saturday I learnt all about two colour knitting with Mary Jane Mucklestone and swooned over her book swatches that I have been looking at on the page for so many years.

It's amazing to think that I knitted that class-hat in one day. There's so much knitting time in a day when you take away all the cooking and driving and farming and washing and stuff.

And on Sunday I did a fresh Fair Isle class with Mary Jane.

Before I taught at Soul Craft in June and was panicking about every detail of my class, I had a conversation with Bren about different teachers we'd had in our lives and how now there are some masters of their fields that we would pay to sit in their classes just to hang out with them even if it worked out that somehow we didn't learn anything at all. He named a Japanese bowl turner and I named Mary Jane.

As it happened not only is Mary Jane one of the most beautiful people I've ever met, not only is she a master knitter and a great story teller, but she's also a fabulous teacher. I learnt so much from her over the course of the weekend. I learnt about stitches and colour and history and technique. In my classes there were beginner knitters all the way through to advanced and professional and I'm positive we all did. 

And I guess the same way that lady at the start lived a completely different life than I do and is in a different chapter of living it, we Craft Sessions attendees immediately found our common craft ground and bridged all the gaps. There were women there that I didn't have anything except craft in common with either, but those who knit together - can sit together, and chat together, and soon that's all that matters.

And despite my initial hesitation that I would be overwhelmed and feel lost, I feel richer and inspired and full of ideas and thoughts, and part of a community.

Remember a few weeks ago when I was looking for some charcoal speckled yarn to knit a cardigan? Well I found it at the mini market at The Craft Sessions. Yay!

I just need to hurry up and finish the second pair of these socks first. They're Bren's Father's Day socks so I'm either very late or very early. I'm not a great lover of knitting the same thing twice, but when he saw the first pair and said they are his favourite of all the socks I've ever knitted, well I didn't have choice, did I?!

And after filling my own cup I returned home a more patient, happy and present mother.

When I walked in the door last Sunday night after The Craft Sessions to a clean, flower filled house, we sat down to dinner and Indi handed me a leaf and asked me to tell them what I would leave there? A stick and asked me what would stick with me from the experience? And a rock, what rocked?

I think I'd leaf/leave the sharing a room thing there. Actually I know I would. Although I love, love, loved my roomie Mary Jane, and every second I spent with her, I think worrying about snoring, farting, insomnia and going to the toilet in the middle of the night are worries I can do without. I think my love of Fair Isle and the techniques I learned will stick with me forever. And that feeling of being in a like-minded, craft-loving, knitting-obsessed, community totally rocked!

Well that was quite the marathon blog post wasn't it.

Tell me about your week. Pretend I'm handing you a leaf, a stick and a rock and tell me what you would leave behind, what stuck and what rocked.

Until we meet again next week my friends, be kind to yourselves and each other.

Love, Kate xx

Friday, September 7, 2018

the craft sessions

These are the only photos I have on my camera roll from this past week. Daffodils with Bren and wallflowers with Indi. As well as that we planted lots of seeds, scrubbed our house, celebrated Bren's dad's birthday, celebrated father's day, drove kids around, cooked lots of food, knitted, read, listened, learned.

And then on Tuesday Felicia (right) brought Mary Jane Mucklestone (middle) to visit for the day. Mary Jane is the author of two of my favourite knitting reference books, designer of some of my favourite patterns, Fair Isle and Scandinavian motif queen, and as my girls say - my celebrity crush. 

Those of you who have been around for a while might remember these socks that I knitted back in 2016. Every motif came from Mary Jane's books and thus began my love affair with her work.

The four of us hung out in Bren's studio and admired his bowls and collection of axes, we hung out in my studio and admired the view, and then we ate lunch. She's amazing, as down to earth, and colourful, and lovely as I'd imagined.

And three or four hours later when they were leaving and it occurred to me that we hadn't even knitted a stitch together, Felicia told me that someone had just dropped out of The Craft Sessions this weekend and why didn't I come instead? In two days time!

This is the blurb from the website - 
The Craft Sessions' annual retreat is a weekend of creative workshops, delicious food, quiet moments and inspiring people. It is an opportunity to play and learn, to talk and share ideas. It's about coming together and sharing a love of making, appreciating the beauty in the smaller things, and delighting in the pleasure and simplicity in all things handmade.
The weekend is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a weekend of knitting, weaving, stitching, printing, sewing, dyeing, and making. Surrounded by beautiful greenery the retreat space boasts big light filled rooms with stunning views of the surrounding bush.

I ummed and ahhed overnight (mostly about not sleeping away from home) and then when Felicia told me I could share a room with Mary Jane at the retreat and do two of her three classes, I knew there was only one choice for me to make.

So here I am sitting up on my bed in our room at 3.30 in the afternoon. She's sitting next to me putting together a slide show about her Grand Shetland Adventures and I'm writing my blog. This morning I did a darning class, tomorrow I'm doing a two colour knitting class and on Sunday - Fresh Fair Isle. 

After I press publish on this I think I'll have a cup of tea and do some knitting in the dining room followed by a walk in the bush. With no school pick-ups to drive, no dinners to make, no farm chores or house work to do, it's amazing how much time there is in a day.

I hope you have a gorgeous weekend my friends. I hope it's just the right mix of productive and restful. If you feel like it you could listen to the Alice Fraser podcast Trilogy podcast which is funny and musical and sad and upsetting and heartwarming in equal parts. I really loved it and highly recommend it. 

You could download the very first issue of Yarnologie Magazine and read the six page story about me. 

Or you could tell me something you think I'd like? Or something you've been up to lately? Or anything really, I'm listening...

I'll see you this time next week with some new skills and some crafty stories.

Until kind to yourselves and each other.

Love, Kate xx

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