Nature

The last seven days I’ve been taking part in a Facebook challenge to post a photo a day for 7 days, with “no people or buildings – just nature in all its glory”.

I’ve enjoyed doing this and thought I’d share my week in photos.  (Most pictures were taken on the day, but the occasional one was from the previous day or a few days before).

5th May – A field of cowslips:

cowslips

6th May – Blossom in the orchard (taken day before):

apple

7th May – Auricula (taken a few days before, and featured in my last blog post):

auricula

8th May – Forget-me-not.  At first glance I thought this was a carpet of bluebells.  It reminded me of the flower fairy poems by Cicely Mary Barker:

So small, so blue, in grassy places
My flowers raise
Their tiny faces.

By streams my bigger sisters grow,
And smile in gardens,
In a row.

I’ve never seen a garden plot;
But though I’m small,
Forget me not!

forget me not

9th May – Bluebells (taken day before):

bluebells

10th May – Raining all day – so a spot of nature from inside:

orchid

11th May – After the rain, raindrops on aquilegia leaves:

drops

I’ve enjoyed sharing my photos during this week, and think I’ll be continuing on with the challenge.  May is exuberant and it’s proving to be a lovely month to share.

The Forget-me-not Fairy, “Flower Fairies of the Summer” Published by Blackie and Son Ltd. (My copy doesn’t have a published date, but must be nearly as old as I am).

The Garden and Dyeing

I got back from all the time away in August to find the neglected garden was doing very well with brambles, that had acquired triffid like proportions, creeping, crawling and scrambling over and through everything.  One bramble had sent a branch soaring upwards, through the crab apple tree (at about 8ft high) and was just touching the ground on the other side.  The lawn had almost totally disappeared.  So, I’ve been hacking (loppers are a girl’s best friend), shredding and mowing to slowly return order to a large proportion of the garden.  There is still much to be done, but today I bought a wide variety of spring bulbs and some winter violas to plant in the recently cleared herb bed.  I’m looking forward to the garden being a real treat in the spring.

About half of the garden has been neglected for a much longer time and is under a frightening scramble of brambles.  I’ve been ignoring this and will continue to do so until I have the rest under control.  I then have plans to work on it over the autumn and winter and eventually to plant a range of fruit trees to make a tiny orchard.

Despite all the gardening I managed to do some dyeing one evening last week.  I dyed up some BFL tops and BFL, kid mohair and Wensleydale fleece.  I did all the dyeing in the oven in some large roasting pans.  The pans fit (just) two at a time in the oven and mean that I can dye four batches of fibre in one session.

dyeing

The fleece, despite the warm weather, took two whole days to dry on the line.  I hang the fleece in net laundry bags, but I shall have to find a much better way to dry it in the future.  The BFL top was completely dry, fluffy and airy after just a day.

BFL-top 

I’ve started using the mohair, and it’s the first time I’ve used this fibre.  Initially I thought I’d felted it, as it was very difficult to tease apart the locks, but, I think it had compacted during the dyeing.  The mohair doesn’t have the elasticity or bounce of wool and I hadn’t understood how it would behave.

mohair

I’m currently teasing the mohair apart and carding it with hand-cards to get fluffy coloured clouds.  I have a plan, but that shall be in my next post…

Spinning Longdraw on Day 9 of the TdF

Yesterday I was creating large and fluffy yarn on a wheel with a ratio of 3:1.  Today I decided I needed to make progress on something that’s been hanging around for a long time.  So I switched to my Ashford Traditional with a lace flyer set at 40:1 and got on with spinning my Shetland and soybean fibre blend.  I did a little in the afternoon and this evening after the children were in bed I took the wheel out onto the patio to spin.

day9-patio

The garden’s fairly unkempt, but there are some lovely plants on the patio including this pot containing three fuchsias (it wasn’t as dark as this – the flash has just made it look darker).  There’s a huge jasmine halfway down the garden, and the scent from the flowers was filling the air (I’ve now learnt that when the label of a plant says it’ll grow to 4m by 4m, I need to think very hard about how big that actually is, and not kid myself that I’ll manage to keep it to 2m by 2m by pruning!)

Anyway, I sat down with my tea and my wheel and pulled handfuls of fibre from the blended batt and spun longdraw from the fold.

day9-longdraw

This is a wobbly one handed photo, taken on my phone.  You can see the fibre batt on my lap, and a spun thread (going off to the left) just before it gets wound onto the bobbin.

I managed about 40 minutes spinning outside before it got too dark to see how thick a thread I was making.  It was a lovely way to fit some spinning into my day.

No crafting but a pretty garden

Despite neglecting the garden it’s still managing to look remarkably beautiful.  The roses that were heavily pruned at Easter are finally flowering (these smell as good as they look) and the penstemons have turned from an untidy clump into something quite stunning.

yellow roses

Pink Penstemon

I’ve decided this year that the long grass growing between the specimen plants is a desirable feature.  Perhaps next year I will get “proper” grass to fill these spaces.

So, no progress on craft projects this week – but perhaps I can use these as colour inspiration for future projects.