Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Socks from scratch

IMG_1414 I'm obsessed with knitting socks!!

I know that that's not news for anybody who knows me in real life as I'm always pulling that long, skinny needle and a couple of balls of fine yarn out of my basket to knit a row or two. It's probably nothing revelatory to you guys who know me online either, as my last few yarn purchases and crafty projects have been all about the sock too.

But as well as the click-clacking, I've been thinking a lot about this new love too. Trying to turn it over and inside-out, attempting to understand it and trace it back to where it first began.

A long, long time ago, when I was in my early teens, I used to learn the clarinet off this wonderful woman called Anna, whose family ran a shop that sold roses on Wattletree Road. During my lessons Anna used to knit these long, colourful and heavily patterned socks. They were incredible. I remember them being knitted up with a different pattern each strip working up the sock. A house with a garden, a sky with butterflies, flowers, trees and birds.

The fact that they impressed this non knitting teenager says something and the fact that they have stayed in my mind all these years makes me wonder if I should credit Anna with my love of the knitting of the humble sock. What I wouldn't give to hold one in my hands right now and reconcile my memories with sock truth.

(Miss Pepper's blue socks raveled here.)

Fast forward thirty or so years and finally I'm knitting socks of my own. Not nearly at Anna's level of complication, but there's time.

About four years ago when I picked up the needles and googled 'how to cast on', I think I probably had socks in my mind as the end game. (Check out Miss Pepper's cute cheeks in my first knitting post).

Knitting socks just makes sense to me.

I love that I can play with the cutest, craziest, most colourful yarn that I would never be brave enough to experiment with on a larger piece of clothing.

I love that I can make something that we actually need and wear everyday. If life as we know it ever ends, my family will still have cute socks to put on.

I love how portable the sock knitting project is.

I love the anatomy of a sock. To date I have knitted nine and a bit socks and I never cease to be overwhelmed with admiration for the person who first broke it down and designed something that covers that tricky bit of the body and fits it so well.

I love all the different patterns and choices available from the utensils, to the yarns, to the directions, to the cast ons, to the gussets, to the heels, to the patterns, to the lengths, to the cast offs.

I love knitting two socks at a time, on a long circular needle, from the toes up.

I love that sock knitting is a slow and meditative craft.

I love that sock knitters are like members of a secret club. Three or four times over the past few months strangers have approached me while I was knitting and chatted sock techniques. It's almost like finding someone else who speaks your language when you are in a foreign country.

I love this book.

And I love clicking on the sock knitting hashtags on instagram and scrolling through what everybody else is making.

(Bren's Farmer Boy socks ravelled here.)

Yep, I'm hooked on socks!

How about you?
What are you hooked on right now?

Happy equinox you guys!

Big love


Sunday, September 21, 2014

a big bunch of daffodils x



IMG_1269 For some reason my blog seems to be stuck on this post.

I took the photos on fathers' day a few weeks back and I loaded them into my blog not long after that.

At first I think I thought it would be a blog about spring. About how a little sunshine, an extra few minutes in the day and some pretty yellow flowers make the whole world feel like it's opening up with a zillion possibilities.

Then when I didn't write that post I think I planned to write a bit of a story about each of my girls. One at a time. Where they are, what they are thinking, loving, doing, hoping, and dreaming about.

And then when that didn't eventuate I think I intended to write something a bit more farmy. Something about how we are feeling about this growing season, about seeds and biodynamics, and chooks and sheep.

But obviously I didn't write that one either. And for some unknown reason the tab of this blog post has remained open but the text part of this blog has remained empty. It's been like that for a few weeks now. And every time I take any new photos off my camera and think about writing a different blog post, I keep coming back to this one and I get stuck all over again. I can't seem to leave this post behind It's like I'd feel guilty to cheat on it.

So basically what I'm doing here is pressing publish so I can push forward.

Hopefully I'll be back in the next day or two to talk about all that other stuff. We've got so much to catch up on, I can hardly wait.

In the meantime I'm off to try this cast off on a little blue pair of Pepper socks.
What're you up to today/tonight?

Big love - speak soon.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Fridays on instagram

I sometimes wonder a bit about how much my online worlds interconnect. If I post my new knitting project on Ravelry have you seen it before I get around to tweeting it? If I tell you a funny story on Facebook is it doubling up to blog it too? And if I write about something that is going on in my life as the caption to my Instagram picture, can I assume that most people who are interested in my goings on will have read it as a bite sized chunk and so there's no reason to tell it anywhere online again?

I have no idea.

But just in case you didn't see this on my instagram, and if you did I'm sorry to be repeating myself, there's this cool thing that I'm taking part of that I thought you might like to know about too.

A few weeks ago 10 Melbourne instagrammers were contacted by The Centre of Contemporary Photography (CCP) in Melbourne, inviting us to take part in their inaugural instagram competition. And I was one of them, can you believe it?!! I certainly couldn't.

The rules are that each participant must post a photo each Friday for ten Fridays using a one word prompt provided. Other than that we would be free to use instagram however we liked.

At first I felt honoured and humbled and majorly overwhelmed to be included amongst such incredible photographers. I think I even jumped up and down a bit too. And then I promptly panicked and wrote back an email stating the ten reasons why there was no way I could play along. The first one being how incredibly talented and professional and arty the other nine photographers are. I thought I would feel silly taking my usual photos of wool and chickens and children alongside their masterpieces.

But then after a good long think, and a few kind pep talks from my peeps, I decided to play along. But I would be trying my hardest not to be intimidated, not to second guess myself and not to try and recreate anyone else's style. And I would post iPhone photos only, edited on my phone only, taken on or as close as possible to the same day as posting only. 

So each Friday we'll be posting our pics using the hashtag #ccp_australia. Each week there will be a different theme and each week I'll be hyperventilating while I work out what to post and hope to goodness that I don't make too much of a fool of myself while doing so.

The first theme was BEGINNINGS and my photo was the springtime one up above.

I think the first one was the hardest because I didn't know what to expect from the others. But around lunchtime as I was gathering veggies from the garden for dinner and flowers for the table, I had the brainwave to lay them out on the ground like that.

I tried doing the writing with seeds, then with petals before the chalk. Our dog ran through it a few times and I panicked as the others started posting their clean, stunning pics. But eventually I took a big deep breath and posted it. It's earthy and messy but then again so am I.

The second week's prompt was TEXTURE.

We moved all our flocks of chickens through the forest that Friday morning and I considered every wood-pile, every fallen branch, every bit of moss and every other interesting textural bit of forest I came across, but in the end I decided I wanted something brighter.

So at about five o'clock, just when I thought the light would be just right, I carried a chair and a pile of blankets I'd made down the hill to the back of the bottom shed. But no matter how I tried I couldn't get the shot I wanted.

I spent the next ten minutes running up and down our hill chucking those blankets on things, against things and underneath things before coming home and snapping the picture above. Sometimes simple just works better.

Last Friday's word was LIGHT.

All week I'd imagined something to do with feathers - light as a feather and all that. And it just so happened that last week our pullet flock started losing their baby feathers and I amassed quite the collection.

But out of the three, this last photo is the one I am least happy with. Although it has light and feathery light, and although it is earthy and farmy, I still don't think it is me. I feel like I tried something and it didn't quite work.

Luckily I've only got a few days before this Friday's entry to make myself feel better.

You can click on the #ccp_australia hashtag to check it all out for yourself and if you like you can even play along using the #diyccpsalon hashtag. Come November all the 100 photos will be printed out and hung as a proper exhibition and you can go along and see them there too. Wow!

Oh and these three photos were taken on my camera, but if you want to have a look at the proper instagram versions, please come and find me, I'm @foxslane over there too.

Anyway, enough about me, how about you?
Do you have your own rules for your instagram posting?
Do you feel like everyone's just repeating themselves, repeating themselves all over social media?
Do you think you might like to play along with this Friday's CCP prompt too?

I hope your light is just right.
Happy snapping!


Monday, September 1, 2014

bits and bobs

Hello!! How are you? Happy springtime!

Long time no blog hey. Possibly the longest time since this blog began, possibly too long for me to even remember where we've been and what we've been doing.  But that's OK, I'm here now with twenty minutes before I have to go and pick up the girls from school, and that's all that matter's right.

So a little while ago the clouds finally parted, the sun came out and we've been busy bees in the garden, in the kitchen, on the farm, at school and everywhere else in between - ever since. I've barely opened my computer in weeks. But I have been taking photos here and there and so I thought I'd just catch you up quickly on some of the highlights.

We've been picking daffodils. Always one of the very first signs of spring around here.

One sunny day Miss Pepper woke up very early and wrote a list of everything she wanted to do that day. It looked like comic strip with a drawing of her doing the thing and a description underneath. Pick a basketful of daffodils was the very first thing on that list. So we did. And now we have jars full of yellow happy flowers throughout the house.

I'm so excited that spring is finally here. Last night it occurred to me that I've now survived 14 Daylesford winters. That is a lot of very cold, dark months and I am so relieved to see the back of this past one. Phew!

I'm reading another Miss Mogantosh book suggestion.

It's interesting to read a book that is so similar to the one I always thought I might write. Leaving the city for a life of organic farming, the steepest learning curves, the never-ending jobs lists, the dirt and mud, the cost of things, the joys of farming, the taste of food grown with love, the interesting characters along the way, the live-stock and dead-stock, the love of a farmer boy...it's all there. But in this case it's in America with the added bonuses of real deep snow, encounters with the Amish, maple syrup and draught horses.

Our stories are so similar and yet vastly different. I'm really enjoying Kirstin's tale and bookmarking so many bits to chat with my own farmer boy about when I get the chance.

I'm still loving my wool craft classes at the girls' school.

I've been thinking a lot about holding some workshops here on our farm over the warmer months, teaching, making and sharing. I love the thought of passing on the knowledge and skills that we have to people who don't necessarily live the same sort of life as we do.

We've been making our coffee on a little burner out in the paddock in the sunshine, eating snacks of dried nuts and fruit and knitting a few rows here and there. Ahhhhhh there's nothing quite like the feeling of breaking after a hard morning's work, sitting with the sun warm on our backs, counting how many different bird songs we can hear, while sipping sweet cardamon coffee.

I worked out that every Saturday for the past few Saturdays, I've cast off a sock and cast on another sock. Last Saturday I finally finished Miss Indi's fairy bread socks and she loves them! She actually took them off me and wore them straight away!! It has been a long time since my teenager has worn anything I have handmade for her and seeing her love those socks as much as I loved knitting them for her was the biggest buzz ever. Hooray!!

Socks ravelled here.

That same Saturday I cast on a pair of socks for my farmer boy.

A few weeks ago he was on a boy's only trip to Melbourne when he popped into a wool shop, asked for a ball of sock yarn that would be knitted on size two needles with graduating colour and chose this. Amazing right?!

I could hardly wait to cast them on.

I should probably mention that when our local craft shop didn't stock the one meter long, size two circular needle I'd need for knitting two socks at the same time, I was forced to shop online and by accident lost my web-shopping virginity on these beauties.

I bought them from Tangled Yarns who had the best customer service and I can highly recommend.

I always thought that I needed to actually squish the yarn myself before buying, but I've been proven wrong. There is something so exciting about getting a parcel of delicious wool in the mail, it's almost like a present. I'm pretty sure I'll be online buying again before too long.

Of course we've been taking advantage of the warm, windless days by spending time in the kitchen garden, the market gardens and the orchards weeding, forking, tidying, planting and getting ready for the growing season.

IMG_0965 And we've been planting bucket-loads of this gorgeous looking mix of Burrum Biodynamics green manure seeds. Giving back to the soil that gives so much to us.

And that brings us up to now, to this week when the weather has closed in and is cold and wintry again. At other times this might have made me miserable but instead I'm feeling glad for the opportunity to slow down for a bit, to catch up on some inside jobs and for the rain that is watering in the seeds and hopefully filling up the dams and water tanks before summer. It feels like a big, deep breath.

So tell me, if you feel like it, what you've been busy with. What you're making and baking and growing and reading. I'd love to know.

Be well my friends, I hope your shoulders feel strong enough to take on your load.

Big love


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