Friday, 25 April 2014

A 'hatty' kind of day

The cooler weather has inspired me to start looking for interesting hats.

A couple of weeks ago I indulged in a copy of Simply Crochet (issue 17).  I really enjoy browsing through the patterns and yarny info in crochet magazines.  This one is expensive, being imported from the UK, so buying for myself it was quite a treat.  And see the pretty hat?  It really took my fancy!


Just before we get to the hat though, I want to add that even the advertisements in this magazine are a sight to behold - for example, I am IN LOVE with the gorgeous tea cosy in this Stylecraft ad and have been thinking about buying the pattern online.


Anyway, back to the hat . . .


Most of the yarns prescribed in overseas patterns are either unavailable or hard to find here, so I am getting pretty adept at substituting yarn (with help from Ravelry's yarn conversion tables).  This pattern requires 8 ply cotton, which I just happened to have in my stash - yay!

On looking at the pattern more closely I was initially a bit disconcerted about the instruction to crochet three strands together (and four strands together for the brim).  Still, I was not to be put off - I simply had to get my yarn into separate balls before I started.

It really didn't take very long to get going.


An hour or two later I was up to the brim . . .


 . . . and voila -  I finished the hat this afternoon!


 Here's my daughter modelling it for me.  I think it looks lovely on her -  very jaunty!


Nandina


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Goal, vs the Journey


As you know, a few weeks ago I was starting to feel a bit bored with my unfinished chequerboard blanket.


 So I started a knitting project to challenge myself.


I felt a bit guilty that I had not completed the chequerboard blanket before embarking on a new project!  But now I realise that sometimes it can be a positive thing to have different kinds of projects on the go.

When I was feeling the need for something comforting and repetitive, I would pick up the crochet.  If I felt the need for something 'a bit different,' I would pick up the knitting.  It seems that I had a hankering not to be driven solely by the desire to finish, but also to relish 'the journey!'  As a pretty goal-driven person, I have needed to make a conscious decision that this is OK.

Interestingly, I have finished the knitting project first (not that it's been about getting to the end, and it is after all a smaller project).


As noted in a previous post, while this yarn was not great for the original crochet project I had in mind, I think the yarn looks great in simple knit stitch.


I still had to pick out a few bits of grass from the yarn as I went, but overall I am more satisfied with the way the yarn worked in this project.  That said, I am sorely tempted to edge it in crochet to finish it off!

The size and shape of this blanket was pretty much governed by the amount of yarn I had.  Its long rectangle shape lends itself to being doubled over.  As such have decided, that it will make a
perfect cat mat for Rosie, who loves to sit on the couch.


Nandina










Nandina

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Swales and other gardening adventures

I am a bit of a magpie where gardening is concerned.

My gardening inspirations include
as well as practical 'TV' gardeners like
I have benefited from all of these people's ideas to address some of the problems I face, particularly how to mitigate water run off from my sloping block, and mitigate the hot summer northwesterly winds that blast up the hill.

For example, over the years I have created my Edna-Walling-curved back lawn.  However I did not simply make a level lawn - oh no!  I had read about the tremendous benefits of making your lawn into a swale in Don Burke's book, 'The Lazy Gardener,'  So that is what I did!  It took me two summers, but I did it.

My gently swale-shaped lawn has worked beautifully - while you can hardly tell it dips along the centre, it now stays green through most of the summer because it captures and holds water longer, with any excess water (mostly) flowing down to my veggie patches.  I am still amazed at how such a simple strategy like this works!


Now I think I might need more swales.

The unusual amount of rain (actual puddles and rivulets!!) has given me another opportunity to assess how water is moving through other areas of my garden - and I can see that the neglected area of the garden between the fence and the driveway is a bit of a problem.


The shape of the earth and mulch above show me that a considerable amount of water is flowing from next door under the fence.  While some of it collects here (next to the bottom of my veggie patch) . . .


. . . most of the water is lost down my driveway.


I will have to solve this by 'swale-ing' the land to re-direct the water, so it it not lost.


Addendum: I wrote the above a few days ago.  The last couple of days have been windy, and the rain seems to have blown away for now.  However I have not only been truly thankful for the lovely soaking rain, but also I have greatly appreciated the opportunity the rain has given for me to stop and explore these ideas to change things for the better.

Nandina








Friday, 4 April 2014

Lush

Amazing - we have had a few days of almost constant steady rain!


My garden is looking lush and green!

This weather is an absolute dream, after the months of baking heat waves of summer that killed even tough plants and sapped all the moisture out of the subsoil.


Just a couple of months ago, my camellias looked like this: 


Now they are in full recovery mode, with fattening flower buds:


This kind of weather is quite unusual here in the Monaro region so I am enjoying it while it lasts.  Who knows when such good rain will come again?

There is also a hint of Autumn in the air.




Today feels like a good day to sit quietly and count my blessings.  

Nandina

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A double life

Sometimes I feel as if I lead a double life.  Working full time takes up most of my weekdays, but my 'real' life is spent after hours, at the place I love, with the people I love, doing the things I love.  I know I am not alone in this!


But sometimes the stress of my day job leaks into my home life.  My workload has become pretty overwhelming lately due to staff cutbacks, and I have been catching myself thinking about work and dreaming of work when I am not at work - which is never a good sign.

So I am doing my best to consciously find ways of banishing unwelcome thoughts of work from my time at home.

I find immersing myself in simply every day tasks helps.  So,  I have been . . .

cleaning

                 

weeding 

hanging and folding washing . . . 

You know, the usual tasks - but with gusto!  I find doing these mundane but necessary tasks allows time for my mind to process stuff without really knowing I am doing it.

Time with family is also helpful, as it helps distract me from focusing on myself!  My adult children are always a joy.

But for me, crochet is the best remedy.


(As you can see I am still working on strips of green and cream cotton for my chequerboard blanket!)

Yep, I just keep coming back to the benefits of crochet!  I can select a project as simple or complex as I like. . . . concentrate on intricacies, or progress something comfortingly repetitive . . . think about yarns and edgings . . . but all the while, part of my mind is free to ponder, while I still get that sense of accomplishment.  I can crochet while listening to music, talking to friends, watching telly, having a cuppa . . . crochet is like having my cake, and eating it too!

And I am feeling all the better for it.

Nandina