outdoors play

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We headed outside today.  The vegetable garden is a bit like a time warp, exactly as I left it back in July when pregnancy symptoms were in full force and I was so scared that something, anything, could cause things to go wrong.  I remember so clearly this time last year, when I was venturing into the garden for the start of new season and being so unbearably sad that I was doing these little springtime tasks alone, rather than with the child that should have been there with me.  Of course this year it is all different.  Alana slept in her sling as I cleared away a few old pots and planted some seeds.  My vegetable gardening plans this year are pretty tame, just lots of potatoes and a few things in the greenhouse.  I think in the past I’ve been a bit ambitious and it all gets a bit overwhelming.  I hope she loves being outside as much as me.  I want to her know the smells, and the feel of the earth.  Is it selfish to hope that your children love the same things as you?  I want her to love what she loves too.

But anyway.  There are lots of dead vegetables.  Some gigantic weeds.  The kind so big that if you dig them out you leave a huge, clear patch of earth.  A couple of weeks ago we had some tall, wobbly trees cut back and my lovely inlaws have chopped and cleared the wood while we were up north.  The chickens are as cheeky as ever.  They gathered at the gate while we explored and I swear they were whispering excitedly to each other ‘the lady is back growing things, sure, the man build a new fence but we will find our way through!’  Sure enough, I turned and when I looked back Scarlet was pecking about on the wrong side of the fence.  I have no idea how she did it.  She looked pretty proud of herself, as if she just wanted to show me that she could.

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nestling back home

I’m home.  We went for a little relaxing trip, which got extended at each end as we visited family.  In two weeks, I took one photograph, and its not a particularly good one –

 

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A lot has changed in two weeks, especially when you leave as the seasons are changing.  We got home to leaves, leaves and more leaves, different colours and ripening pumpkins in the garden.  I had to buy a warmer jacket, and now walking Penny by the river is delightful.  She seems equally delighted that things have returned to normal and her people are home.

We got home to surprises too.  Imagine opening your front door, to see that your rickety old, marked and hand-knit sock-snagging hall floorboards had been magically replaced with solid oak flooring, completely perfect, beautiful and homely.  I gaped at it from the doorstep and wept.  I am nowhere near done with showering my father-in-law and Mr Saz in kisses.

That wasn’t even everything – all our internal doors had been taken down, made to fit properly and rehung.  I have been so used to kicking the bottom of the doors to make them close I didn’t even notice I was doing it.  My garage now looks like a garage/workshop, rather than a room with the sole purpose of housing a huge pile of crap.  There is a new, sturdy chicken run which I can see the ladies eyeing up excitedly, they’ll be moved there at the weekend.

All this, the beginning of my favourite season, and knowing that things are still fine.  I feel so lucky.

 

 

shades of green

Finally, lush is the word for the garden right now.  Not so much in the vegetable garden, yet, but definitely everywhere else.

As the weather warms up a little and we spend more time outside, my mind keeps wandering into to the woods at Squam Lake.  I’m not going this year, but I can feel the excitement building anyway.  I am imagining students and teachers getting excited, making plans, gathering supplies and headlamps.  I sit outside with Penny and if I close my eyes and ignore the quiet chatters of the chickens, it almost seems like I’m there.  If you’re going, have a wonderful time x

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marielle skirt

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Right now I am happily riding the wave of my sewing mojo.  My Cambie is finished (a reveal will follow after the wedding I’ve made it to wear at next weekend), and I celebrated by starting something new, straight away.

Maybe this puts me in the realms of weird fan girl, but when I saw the Marielle Skirt on Tilly’s blog I knew I needed this skirt in my wardrobe.

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The directions (even in a magazine which I guess might have been edited) were perfectly clear and lovely.  Somehow though my skirt ended up with the opening on the opposite side.  I don’t think I made any whoopsies and my fabric was the correct way up, but clearly something happened, not that it matters.

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(There is a strange chicken v dog territory war going on behind me in these photos.  Penny tries to look for squirrels in the tress.  The chickens are unimpressed and charge her, trying to peck her tail as she runs away.  Chickens look triumphant.)

The fabric is some navy cord, and I lined it with a little cotton print I picked up somewhere.  Buttons are from my rescued/frogged Levenwick.

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I love how this skirt is going to go with so many things in my wardrobe.  Penny likes it too.

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silence

These days I am not as sociable as I used to be.  This past weekend was lovely, filled with loved ones and laughing and fresh air.  Every day I feel fortunate to have such wonderful family.  But suddenly now it is silent, and just as lovely.

This afternoon there will be quiet work in my office, with just Penny curled up behind me.  Chocolate cake.  Maybe a little seed planting.  Maybe a little snooker.  And definitely an epic, muddy hike.  (We can’t say the ‘w’ word around here anymore, it puts sweet Penny into a frenzy.  Soon that will happen for the ‘h’ word too and we will have to find an new one.)

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picnic blanket skirt

Ta da!  For the first time ever I have finished a sewn garment that is actually going into my wardrobe!

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Not the sharpest picture, but since its also one of the only times I’ve smiled into a camera without looking like I am about to murder someone, its the one that’s going up.  (Bowie the Chicken says hello.  She is in a very friendly mood just now and wants a cuddle at every opportunity.  Its egg-laying time and she hopes I might be a man.  Anyway….)

I made a Picnic Blanket Skirt mostly during a class on Saturday at Ray Stitch, with the lovely Tilly.  It was fun, and I learnt a few things that are probably super-obvious to sewing people of experience, but which being self-taught and always alone at my sewing machine I just never figured out or thought about.  The class also made me want to sew all the things.  Now.

Once I got home and was faced with the final touches on my own I discovered a bit of a problem.  Originally I drew and cut the pattern so the waistband would sit lower (probably closer to where I wear my jeans), but after trying it on this was NOT a good look.  It really needed to sit closer to the narrowest point of my waist to make those gathers look sensible.  In the olden days I would have realised this, though ‘oh well,’ finished it anyway just to be done and then put it away in a drawer.  Not now!  Taking the whole thing apart – gathers, top-stitching and all, seemed a step too far, so some surgery was required.  I figured out how much fabric needed to come out to make the waistband narrower, centred it on the back, calculated seam allowances, cut out a chunk and french seamed right the way up the back.  It means there is a little lumpy bit on the wrong side of the waistband at the back, but it sits nicely in the small of my back and doesn’t bother me.  And it means that I’ll wear the skirt, so I’m calling this a success.

The offending extra piece late at night –

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The fabric is Architextures by Carolyn Friedland, from Ray Stitch, and the buttons are cute ones that were on their counter beside the cake.  A darker fabric might have been an idea (I already smeared a teeny bit of chocolate on it), but hey ho, I love it anyway.

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I also took the time to finish this really, really well.  I’m going to visit my Gran next week and she likes to look inside the things I make.  She has very high standards…  I even added a hook and eye closure at the waistband to stop any gaping.  (Insert smug face here.)

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And now a silly picture, which is going up only as proof that I wore awesome shoes to match yesterday.  Just need to practice walking in them..  They don’t look that high in the picture, but as a chicken-lady who lives in wellies, I teeter in these beauties!

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playing with colour

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was missing something…but now I think I’ve settled on this –

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It’s been a relaxed weekend here, eating with family and playing with swatches and yarn.  The above is for a Sixareen Cape, which has been brewing in my mind for a while.

It’s still freezing, but it seems like the garden is starting to defrost a little and the snow is gradually retreating.  And so today our new chicken ladies were settled in their outdoor home after what was a pretty entertaining week in our garage.  Once they’ve stopped gorging themselves on grass and put their heads up towards the sky a little I’ll introduce them properly…

crafting for the animals…and the winner

So…to the exciting thing first – the winner of the Dropcloth sampler, Yarn Yarn silk embroidery threads and possibly a couple of other goodies from the depths of my craft room.  Congratulations Nicola!  Your post was picked at random and I will send you an email in the next few minutes…  Thank you to everyone who entered x

And so back to usual business…the new chickens are settling in well, and I am most definitely head-over-heels in love with them.  These girls are much more active that our last lot of rescue chickens.  This is due to a change in the law for these kind of caged hens in the UK, who must now have (a little) more space, and a place to scratch and roost.  It’s better, but still not good enough in my opinion.  They have a some natural behaviour, but looked frankly amazed when I carried one outside for a wander.  Fresh air is something completely new for my girls.

And so the names – Lady Dorothea Featherbottom (Dotty), Scarlet o’Hara (Scarlet), WPC Polly Parker (Parker) and Duchess Mimi the Second (Mimi).  Here’s little timid Mimi.  I knit her a wee sweater as she’s in the worst shape physically and is completely bald on her belly.  She’s very pale and has been over-heated, so the sweater should help her adjust more gradually.  She seemed quite happy as I got her dressed, but a little less tolerant a few minutes later.  I’ll try it again when we put them outside, she’ll need it then and might be a bit more grateful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEveryone in our house is getting new things this week.  Mr Saz and I treated ourselves to a fancy new mattress and bedding and it is lovely.  And so last night after the men were relaxing after getting the mattress upstairs, I sat down at my sewing machine and bound a little quilt for Penny that I pieced and quilted a while ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is made from leftovers of a large quilt I’m making for the humans and as you can see above, is nothing really to be proud of!  But the top is a lovely soft cotton flannel, and Penny seems very attached to it already…

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excitement!

I had plans to post about crafting today, it was a very productive weekend and I have a couple of lovely finished things to talk about.  But today is all about new chickens!!!…

I am beyond excited suddenly to have some new ladies in the garden.  Just like last time we are rehoming ex-battery hens, which as of right now are still in their overheated, caged and permanently indoor environment.  Only a few hours to go before they begin their wonderful new life in our garden, and learn about things like ‘sky,’ ‘grass,’ ‘beasties,’ and my personal favourite – ‘people that care about them.’

Well, not quite the first three…yet.  Because of the position of the pesky jet steam, Scotland feels like the North American tundra.  I can compare, I’ve actually been there.  So we’ve decided to keep them indoors for a little while and I am building a chicken pen in the garage, which (bizarrely) has its own working radiator.  I’m not sure what the previous owners of this house were thinking at the time, but the new ladies will be grateful.

So – names?!  My mother-in-law suggested an excellent one that I’m sure we’ll use, and I have another in mind as a maybe.  But other than that our new hens will be referred to as ‘orange sweater,’ ‘blue sweater,’ until we come up with something, so please post suggestions in the comments…!  Ever wanted to name a chicken?  Now’s your chance!!*

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA*No guarantees…it’ll, um, depend what the new ladies look like and whether their names fit.  The chicken above is named after David Bowie.  To me, the resemblance is obvious.

Also – tomorrow I’ll pick a winner of the embroidery sampler and threads, so one more day to enter here.