Tuesday, March 15, 2016

beginner spinner

So what happens when you're really not very good at something that feels important to you?

It's late on a beautiful, warm Saturday afternoon in the middle of March and we've made the decision to stop with the farm work and spend some time together as a family crafting outside.

It's a crazy time of the year and often I'll find myself getting ready for bed at night not able to remember a single time when I sat down all day. Everything is ripe and needs picking, everything is dry and needs irrigating, everything is going soft and needs preserving, everything is becoming a jungle and needs weeding, and mowing and feeding and fencing and fixing and moving and stacking and and and and...so stopping early just to sit together and chat and make feels indulgent, and precious, and also necessary.

My farmer boy is carving a spoon. It's been months since he's made one but he's committed to demonstrating and selling at a market soon and has lots of cutting ahead of him. His hands feel out of practise, his fingers are sore and blistered, but he's in the zone and not long after he starts chipping away he remembers and he becomes excited at the possibilities and the feelings.

Nearby Indi is weaving wool around sticks and inside the house Jarrah is creating with paper and washi tape.

Miss Pepper is taking staples from our sheep's shorn fleece, combing them, using some for her fairy house and making neat piles of the rest for me. I can't help but joke about how she owes me. How I've been brushing and braiding her bottom-lengthed hair for eight years now and it's time for her to pay up. She is strong and likes to discuss the feeling of the lanolin on her hands, the sheepy, woolly smell and the bits of dirt she finds as she cards.

And I am sitting to the side, shoes off, straight backed, deep breathed, trying my hardest to find some sort of rhythm on this spinning wheel I borrowed from my spinning group.

And it's hard for me.

And I am a little disappointed because I think I had hoped that it would click for me sooner. That wool and fibre and textiles are such a big important part of who I am and what I love that spinning would just be an extension of what I can do and would be easy for me.

To be honest and fair I haven't given the wheel that much time. When time is precious it feels better spent on projects that will produce a sure thing. I have a sleeve to knit on a jumper, I have squares to knit into a blanket, I have Indi's cardigan to cast on, winter is coming and there are socks and mittens and beanies in the queue.

But still the spinning calls to me.

I visit the sheep that grew this fleece every day. At the moment I know that they are in our south orchard eating the grass that grows between the trees. I love that they feel so comfortable amongst the chickens and that they sleep with the dogs. I watch them carefully to see how they behave on the warm days and when it is cooler. I love how they stick together as a pack, how they panic when they are separated from one another by accident and look relieved and chummy when they are reunited. I don't mind that they are eating the lower leaves on the branches of the apple trees and I am sure that their little pellet poo is doing great things for the orchard's fertility.

Now that we have sheep, I find myself less interested in buying commercial wool.

I want to knit with wool that tells our farm's story. Wool that holds our seasons, and bits of our land and the love and respect we have for them as part of our farm.

And yet I find myself with lots of tangley twisty bits.

And a bobbin filled with yarn so bobbley and uneven that it almost looks like that novelty pom-pom yarn you find in op shops and wonder why it was made in the first place.

I will persevere of course. I will hold the fleece in my left hand, draft with my right, while treadeling with both feet and trying to get the wheel to spin in a clockwise direction. Phew! And I'll hold my breath when my farmer boy hops on; part of me wanting him to get it and explain it simply to me, and part of me wanting it to be too hard for him too so it's not just me spinning my way into lumpy-town.

I wonder how far away from my dreams of a hand spun, hand knitted jumper my reality is.

In the meantime, we've opened our farm gate stall for the season, Yay!

You can find us at  - Daylesford Organics - 19 Foxs Lane Muskvale.

The stall is open between about 8am and 8pm every day.

Apples are all certified organic, grown here, picked within the last 24 hours, DELICIOUS and cost $6kg.

Please bring your own bags, exact change and honesty.

And tell me, if you please, when was the last time you tried to learn something new?
When was the last time you didn't at first succeed?
And how long did you try and try again for?
Oh and I'm on the hunt for my own wheel if you have any suggestions.
And youtube spinning videos, can you suggest any?

I'm off to pick today's tomatoes and plant some cabbage.

Big spinny love to you,



Monday, March 7, 2016

baskets full

I loaded these photos into my blog exactly a week ago.

I took these photos in the two weeks before that.

According to the calendar now it's autumn but then it was still summer, although with the extreme heat wave we've been having one could beg to differ.

Last week when I loaded the photos of the pumpkins and the sprouting seed and wondered about the birds who make nests in impossibly high places, I was sitting with my Mum at a cafe nearby. She was  handwriting a chapter in her novel and I was loading photos, trying not to talk to her, feeling a bit guilty for sitting down when there's SO MUCH to do right now on the farm, and in the end instead of writing the words that go with the photos, I wrote a looooooooong to-do list instead. No all that creative but sometimes quite necessary.

Monday morning one week later and the photos are older and the stories that go with them more out of date. But still these are the things that are filling our autumn days.

Apple picking, pumpkin gazing, cucumber collecting and fermenting, tomato harvesting and preserving, spinach, cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, lettuce and carrot weeding and eating, watering, watering and more watering, planting the winter veg, mowing, netting and fencing.

It's a fabulous time of the year. It's the time that makes all the rest of the farming months make sense. It's crates of fruit in the doorway so you have to walk sideways into the house, it's bowls of tomatoes and boxes of cucumbers and baskets of apples, it's pots of bubbling produce on the stove waiting to be poured into jars, it's colourful bottles filling every available bit of bench space there is, it's books lying open all over the table with new recipes to try, it's rings and clips and lids and crocks, it's a washing machine load of aprons, it's a sticky mess on the floor next to the stove, it's a sink FULL of dishes, it's this crazy time when we are living in one season but trying to provide for the next, it's the part of the year that I feel most tired, most alive and the happiest.

Happy new season my friends!

What's it looking like where you are?

I hope yours is bountiful and delicious.

So much love,

Kate x

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