Thursday 31 December 2009

now and Zen

from time to time i flip over to 'Zen Habits' written by Leo Babauta

the most recent epistle compiles his favourite posts of the year on one page so you can leap off into all sorts of interesting directions

you might already be one of the 150,000 plus readers of this site
if not,
you might like to swing on by
here's a link

Tuesday 29 December 2009


funny how the batfone [that's 'mobile' if you're Australian, 'cell' if you're American or 'handy' if you're of Teutonic extraction]
changes the colours of an image
the one above is taken looking towards the sea
the one below looking back from the same spot
the colours are truer on the one below
that's The Dog there, under an improvised tent between two utes [pick-ups, on the other side of the Big Pond]

fun times were had, grinding small red rocks to make marks on paper

the Dog had a splendid time, enjoying fish and chips by the seaside [we bought an extra piece of fish for her and made sure that there was a dog-sized pile of chips without Tabasco, vinegar, extra salt and Louisiana sauce]

that was yesterday.

today we went to the Vet cos the dog was pretty tired. turns out she has a huge tumour.
far too big to operate.

this splendid and faithful Dog has been my right hand on the farm for the past twelve years. she knows 'go back', 'come by' [clockwise around the sheep], 'come round' [anti-clockwise around the sheep
'sit', 'wait', 'stay', 'lie down', 'slow down', 'bring em on' and 'block em'
she also knows 'go home' for which she'll head from the farmhouse from any point on the farm and sit patiently on the doormat until i appear
this could be a handy trick if i fell off a horse, i could tie a note to her collar and she'd head home to raise the alarm.
luckily it's been a while since i fell off, as she doesn't wear a collar.

she is my best friend. what am i going to do without her?
haven't the faintest idea.

Sunday 27 December 2009

while we're on the subject

Marion Gorr, proprietor extraordinaire of my favourite silk-and-all-that-goes-with-it emporium, Beautiful Silks, has just let me know that the Waiuku on-farm workshop in March 2010 is nearly filled

one live-in and two off-farm places remain
it's a lovely region in one of my favourite countries
i'm very much looking forward to becoming acquainted with the northern flora as my experiences in Aotearoa so far have been located mostly in and around Wellington with the odd excursion south to Nelson, Blenheim and of course to the Deep - Invercarrrgill. [and yes, the spelling is intentional]

March is a wonderful month for making plant colour [in the Southern Hemisphere] as the plants will be brimming with summer goodness

the four pictures illustrating the post are details of students' work from the Blenheim region woolshed workshop in 2008

Saturday 26 December 2009

not a bad return

Karen Workman has kindly given me permission to share the contents of an email she sent me - here it is.
i've substituted her friend's name with ****** as i hadn't permission from [the friend] to publish it

Hi India
I just wanted to share with you something extraordinary! At theSouthern Felters Convergence held in Masterton NZ in Sep/Oct this year, I had my landskin wrap there that we made in June with you in Gore. I had taken it to USA and it had been in an exhibition of participants work in Massachusetts, and my friend had worn it to opening night at Haystack on Deer Isle in Maine. ****** ******, a felter from New Hampshire had worn it to her Convivium pot luck with 10 neighbouring women. I had thought she might like to wear it to WOW in Wellington so it was just lounging over the back of a chair, tucked in to a table in ******'s room. At the Bazaar, a visitor, an artist, spied it and asked about it. After ******* claiming that it was the Piece de Resistance of the convergence, she wanted to try it on. ****** brought her over to me. She was trying it on in the mirror, expressing her pleasure and I kept saying, it is not for sale and "I don't sell my samples". I put a price on it that i thought she wouldn't pay, and she paid it. So I have sold my 'sample' for $2000!! I thought you would like to know that I am excited about the method you taught us and Monica from our class has produced amazing pieces, especially with the pleating effect!
Thank you so much for giving us this gift!

that's about a 625% return on her workshop investment. wouldn't mind such returns myself!

Monday 21 December 2009

let it shine

remember that scene in the film 'Love Actually' in which Hugh Grant's character is door-knocking in search of his beloved
and some small precocious children demand that he sings Christmas carols? remember the look on his face as his minder joins in with a deep and lovely rich fruitcake voice?

i had such a moment today, attending the funeral of an old family friend. the congregation rose for the singing of the 23rd psalm and suddenly the most wonderful tones emanated from the gentleman next to me, a deep and glorious tenor with the velvety texture of dark chocolate that has been gently warmed by an open fire.
and it was generously loud.
so i joyfully sang harmonies, reflected on the great pleasure that singing with others can give and thanked our departed friend for having this other friend
who brought such delight on an otherwise sad day

Saturday 19 December 2009

crockett cottage studio

we had such a wonderful time at Mansfield earlier in the month
working with stitch and cloth and plant dyes at the beautiful Crockett Cottage Studio
that it was decided there should be not just one retreat held next year, but two
especially as
several brave souls from the first class
have already put their names on the list for next year

the studio is owned by Sally Harvey [who also took the photo above]
a woman of passion and vision
who has beautifully retro-fitted an old cottage
so that it features a lovely big well-lit studio
outdoor dye, print and felt area
with a sweet deck off the kitchen
where one can enjoy the end-of-day sundowner

pleasantly located on the fringe of Mansfield
overlooking the golf course
and with an abundance of interesting flora in the region
it's the perfect place for
gentle sewing circles
bio-regional dye investigations
and satisfying walks

i left Sally with a list of dye plants
to help inform choices as the gardens are landscaped over the coming year
so as the years pass we'll have even more lovely growing things to choose from
popped over to the studio website [in order to get the photo at top]
and found that several people had very nice things to say about their time there
you can read them here if you like

and here's the plan for 2010

November 1-5 Mapping Country
November 8-12 the FeltQuilt

workshops run 9.30am-4.30 with morning /afternoon teas and vegetarian lunch supplied
cost AUD$590 includes materials kit

the first workshop overlaps the High Country Festival so it's wise to book accommodation early for that one

please click here to send a message if you'd like more detail on the classes
and to see what other workshops are being offered at Crockett Cottage Studio you can access their website here

and last but not least i'd like to wish all the friendlies out there in Blogovnia a very Merry Puddingfest [apply that to whatever you celebrate during the holiday season] and all the very best for the coming year

...i'll be dreaming of a White Christmas

Thursday 17 December 2009

climate change policy

just in case all those delegates in Copenhagen are trawling the net looking for answers in between their bickering
here's my "climate change policy".

STOP logging the forests NOW

take back the chainsaws and give the loggers spades and seeds so they can plant more trees - it'll be gentler on their backs and will mean that their grandchildren might have air to breathe.
[and in case you're wondering, half of that paddock above is now planted to trees]

trees convert CO2 to Oxygen, handy stuff if you want to stay alive
no trees = no rain
no rain = no food

now that we've sorted that, we can start tackling the problem of reducing polluting emissions.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

blink of an eye

flitted briefly to Sydney to visit Planet
and catch up with friends
who'd come all the way from London

Sydney's bones under the brickwork

marks underfoot

marks on trees

marks on cloth


the waterfall paintings of Hiroshi Senju
found in a delicious book
at the Art Gallery of NSW

Monday 14 December 2009

orienting myself to boro

while navigating my way to the airport and trying to avoid toll roads as well as Melbourne's zero tolerance speed cams
i chanced upon Tombo, in High Street, Northcote

it's a rather lovely store full of delicious oriental treasures
including several large
indigo boro pieces

i also found an exquisite Indian box
just the right size for my tide of pearl buttons
and justified its purchase
of course i need that box
so i can fill it with buttons
and photograph it for my next book

good thing there was space in my Brown Bag

Sunday 13 December 2009

now that i've caught your attention...

when i went to Ohio earlier in the year to be an anonymous student and refresh that lovely feeling of being an innocent abroad
i met lots of lovely folks in my class
some of them kindly send me notes from time to time

Christine Mauersberger [whose exquisite textile work fills me with awe] has just acquired a plot in the virtual country of Blogovnia
the place where we all meet and play from time to time

though barely begun
it's full of fascinating links
and well worth keeping an eye on
click here
to swing on by

Saturday 12 December 2009

the bird in the tree

somehow i can't bring myself to flatten the surface
that's the front above
behind, below

and if you look closely
you can see the silk has birds woven into it
it makes me think of a book i read as a child
'the bird in the tree' by Elizabeth Goudge

and also of the Phoenix
magically reborn in the fire

the recent time in Victoria brought forth many fire stories
at Healesville there wasn't one of us
who had not been affected by fire in someway
whether recently
or back in '80 and '83
ash-dusted sisters
relishing the fresh greens of the whirled

Thursday 10 December 2009

more high country stories

on my 'day off' i drove up to Jamieson
i collected maple leaves
and borrowed a beautiful stone
from the river

when i returned to my digs
i sewed [by hand]
a shift dress
from some lovely silk that my friend Marion had sent me
tucker in that wonderful copper pot

i wrapped the shift around the stone
with the leaves
and with some other things i had gathered
along the way

those cherry coloured marks are from Hypericum perforatum
[St John's Wort]


Mansfield...spectacular country, spectacular dye results

Monday 7 December 2009

honey[s], i'm home...well nearly...

i've been away a while and now have the luxury of blobbing in the Q lounge and catching up on a veritable avalanche of mail
the interpixies weren't available to play in Mansfield [or Healesville]
so i had the luxury of catching up on writing and stitching
without the de'il's tempting me astray

i dawdled my way to Healesville
gathering fragments from railway lines
and pockets full of windfalls
[birds-eye view above]

the venue they'd organised was delightful
with a lovely deck overlooking the Maroondah Dam
and distant hills
here's proof
in a reflection

one of the students brought her dog
since everyone was happy to have pet therapy
we encouraged her to bring the dog in

when said hound realised that sticks were needed for the wrapping of bundles
she brought in LOTS
but was so busy and fast that all my shots are but a blur

after each day's work
i walked in the beautiful forest
ferns and small blue flowers
flourished amidst tall blackened trees
this koru
reminded me of my soul home across the water

whereas the one below brings back another one
and the purple-leaved plum trees
on Nob Hill

Thursday 26 November 2009

retreating to FELT

a cheque arrived in the mail today, the balance of payment for a workshop i am leading next week.
but if the typing is to be believed, there may be a disappointed student
i am very much hoping it is a typographical error [and at the same time more than a little curious about what was wandering through the mind of the typist!]

the three day class will be about feltmaking, stitch and dyeing.
definitely no felatio!


some of you may have noticed the HandEye image on the right hand side of these pages - you can sign up to their [free] newsletter by clicking on it.

why am i promoting them? firstly because it's a beautifully designed magazine about hand-making
and secondly because they've kindly taken me under their umbrella
and are publishing my stories
and many more
developing a really useful [as well as beautiful] web resource

and the paper copy is lovely too...happy reading

Tuesday 24 November 2009

down in the allotments

thank you everybody who participated in this virtual garden by adding your delightful stories, photos and drawings to the compost pile. Embellisher threw in some embroidery, Martine has little friends dancing in hers.
Kelly waxed lyrical and had the good sense to mention the indispensable gin as well as a platter of some of my favourite nosh.
Assayya has made her contribution in Dutch [but there's a cute translate button for those in need], Tricia grows dye plants in her patch, Stitch1Peta dreams of wandering to Tasmania
Cleo has posted pictures of her lovely garden and plans for gardens to come and of a bumble bee
[i love bumble bees]
Petrus paints his gentle magic in richly coloured splendour
Penny has drawn us a tidy plan and Pam has waxed poetical

and i'm just delighted that the home-bodies managed to keep our little patch in good spirits despite the 43*C heat.
the picture up top shows it as i like it best, in the early spring mist
a little scruffy
the best place in the whirled to wander into of a morning
barefoot on the dew-pearled grass
cup of tea in hand [vanilla scented with a big dollop of wandoo honey and a gloop of nice creamy milk]
or at sunset
with a beaker of Bombay Sapphire, slosh of tonic and wedge of lime
and of course [in the words of Gershwin] lots of tinkle

these are the allotments at the edge of lovely Lier in Belgium
where in the early morning i espied a pheasant
doing the rounds

oh, and the lucky dip winner is Petrus!
now i'll have to think of an appropriate offering...

golden moment -or, it ain't necessarily so...

pocketing windfalls in the Wellington Botanic Garden last week
the firm tramping of sturdy boots alerted me to an invasion
as the tour group drew closer, i heard one of them asking
"was macht sie da?"
["what is she doing there?"]
quick as a flash and
without the glimmer of a smile
the tour leader responded
"das ist eine einheimische, sie sammelt zier blaetter"
[that is a native collecting decorative leaves]

Merci du compliment, m'sieur!
but seriously
this shows that
like a Tequila shot, the advice of tour guides can be improved with a little hit of salt.

and now to the delightful task of reading all your allotment stories
and then finding a suitable hat...

Sunday 15 November 2009

allotment garden blogging bee and a give-away

dear readers
i'm off and away for a couple of days or seven
across the ditch in the land of the long white cloud shooting pix
for 'second skin'

i've been watching the little patchwork quilt
of pictures
grow in the sidebar
images of folks kind enough to stop by
from time to time

and to my astonishment there are nearly 200 of them
forming a little allotment garden
of links to friendly followers
i decided that while i'm away
will be a good time to collect a few stories
and have a blogging bee
and in the end
draw a name out of a hat
so somebody gets a present

here's the deal.

write a post on your blog about an allotment garden
real or imagined
what would you plant in yours?
what will you wear whilst tending it?
when you pause for elevenses, what will you have?

link back to this post
and tell me [via the comments] that you've posted your story
include your email [perhaps slightly disguised to confuse
the spampixies] so that i can send a pigeon
with the present [later on]

when i come back
around about the 24th of November
i shall put the names of those who joined in
into a hat
and draw one out
and that person shall receive a surprise parcel in the mail

meanwhile i shall be packing my favourite hemp dress [thank you Jo]
[but it's in a dyebath right now Martine, so will look rather different soon]

taking my new teacup
and old teapot

and pootling off for a few days

Friday 13 November 2009

simple but good

blogger posts into yesterdayland [when viewed from the other side of the Big Pond]
so last night was the 12th
and the celebration of the 111st

it was hot here so
we had a 'one bowl wonder'
our favourite potato salad
that derives flavours from diverse cooking cultures [Latvian/Greek/Mexican fusion cooking at its finest]

too good to not share

cook a bunch of washed potatoes in their skins by boiling them in well-salted water
[you can cube and steam them if you are in a hurry but
i think boiled tastes better]

when they're done
chop them into cubes
peeling is up to you [but there's good stuff in the skins]

and put them into a good sturdy bowl for the mixing
a big handful of coarsely chopped smoked salmon
[South Australians can get theirs in a bulk pack at Angelakis in the Central Market -
Alaskans can nip out to a river somewhere]
whatever you do
don't use that yukky stuff available in supermarket jars
put them straight on to the hot potatoes

then chop
a big handful of dill pickled cucumbers [ours are from the Barossa Farmers Market]
a smaller handful of pickled jalapeno chillies
a fair handful of capers
a couple or three spanish onions [save the lovely red skins for your dyepot!]
a clove or two of garlic
some fresh dill from the garden

generously slosh on a good deal of greek yogurt
[sour cream is better to my mind BUT my children make grumbling noises about fat content]
a few spoonsful of mayonnaise [not the sweet kind]
some horseradish
a bit of Dijon mustard
a sprinkling of nice salt [we like the pink stuff that is labelled River Murray salt but really comes out of a bore in the Back of Beyond
and a good grinding of black pepper

mix it all up [two short bamboo spoons are ideal for this]
find yourself a little bowl
from the collection on the shelf
and help yourself
oh, and
while you're at it
pour yourself a nice glass of Bird in Hand sparkling pinot noir
and tuck in

just try not to have three helpings

Wednesday 11 November 2009

[another] remembrance day

November 12th this year marks the eleventy-first birthday of my little grandmother.
[if you don't know what that means, consult your Tolkien]

the splendid word redoubtable describes her quite well. Grandmother survived typhus, cholera, the Russian Revolution, World War 1 and World War 11.

she also survived having us four wild cousins dumped on her for weeks on end during the summer holidays [truth be told only two of us were wild which meant grandmother was kept on her toes protecting the other two - no prizes for guessing to which camp i belonged. sigh].

she was also a woman of decision [a quality she passed on to her youngest daughter].

if you were given notice that the last train out was leaving your homeland in a scant hour's time, what would you take?

Grandmother packed up her children, a change of clothes each, a loaf of bread, a container of lard, the second-best silver [the good stuff she buried in the garden expecting to be back after the war]
her treasured sewing machine

imagine, my five-foot-nothing-in-her-socks [i.e. tiny] Grandmother schlepping her sewing machine across Europe to Germany.
waiting in Latvia for the Soviets to return would simply have guaranteed a one-way ticket to Siberia, where they'd already sent Grandfather having plucked him off the street on New Year's Eve 1940

in 1949 [after five years as 'displaced persons'] Grandmother and three of her five children [one had not survived infancy and the oldest was also a 'guest' of the Soviets] made it to Australia

for which i am grateful [even though i don't have a single heat-friendly gene in my body]
oh, and the sewing machine came too.
and is still in use.