Gardening jeans mend

I do follow people who do lovely mending. I read their books and follow their blogs or instagram accounts. I admire Tom of Holland. I appreciate Katrina Rodabaugh. I’ve enjoyed Jessica Marquez and Hikaru Noguchi. I love that mending is coming back into regular use, at least in some circles. But I am definitely not an upscale mender of my own clothing. My own clothing gets worn out in places I’d rather not show off. My gardening jeans get worn fulsomely, and because my back is a weak point, I kneel in the dirt to garden and dress accordingly.

It follows that you wont be getting styling advice from me!

On the left leg here, you can see indigo dyed thread (look closely) which was the first mend of the knees. The white thread is a second mend. And I seem to have taken this photo in the driveway as I set out guerilla gardening some months back, having recently completed a second mend on the right leg, because the fabric had worn through there.

I’m not entirely sure why I’ve stuck with these so long and mended them so much. I often decide that if I’m up for the job then I’ll do it and who cares why. These jeans are like a catalogue of my hand mending skills over a period of time (definite improvement, in case you are wondering). They are comfortable because they are stretch jeans, something I bought at the time and might not choose again. They are also a cotton polyester blend, which I remember being appalled at when I first washed them and realised–I had been too naive to read the label back then. So the longer they stay out of landfill the better–but the bottom end of my jeans drawer has plenty of contenders for gardening jeans in it. Just not quite yet. I am not yet ready to lose these.

And in this picture, a quiet celebration of guerilla gardening success. Ruby saltbush that has made it through a scorching 40C + heatwave, between a concrete path and a corrugated iron fence. Council have begun to trim it like a hedge, bless them. And bless you, ruby saltbush.

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Blanket projects

I have some lovely pre-loved wool blanketing, and quite a bit of it has been dyed. In my quest to find good uses to which it can be put, I’ve made a goodly number of items over the last six months or so, and I’m still going. I’m afraid I had another series of repeat projects, dear reader.

Yet more box pouches. Using all manner of zippers from stash.

Such a simple and yet satisfying make! And here is an entirely unrelated cherry ballart for your enjoyment…

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Opening the dye jars!

I’ve had jars of dye and thread or fabric sitting about outside and on bookshelves for years here–they have been created using India Flint’s Stuff, Steep and Store method. And I’ve been interested to see that I can let them be for years! A stitching friend was keen to start a stitch journal and so I thought I might contribute and made her a parcel… beginning by opening a pile of jars. Some put by in 2014!

For once I took the effort to make sure I could line up labels with contents… and hopefully my friend’s stitch journal will bring her joy. She’s a wonderful sewer and thinker and feminist and all-round, an upwelling of glorious energy and action.

Needless to say all this dyeing excitement led to more jars…. I love this method. I don’t come across jars big enough to use it on huge quantities, but I am blessed with small batch amounts of some dyes, such as flowers, that work really well with this method and I can process seven at a time, saving energy and drama. And it’s pretty!

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A trip to the composters

This is an image of my Dad’s trailer. When my parents return from their annual journey as “Grey Nomads” across the wide brown land, they always have a lot to do to get their garden into its usual neat and tidy state. That leads to a trip to the waste transfer station some years, and this year it led to a trip to a commercial composter. They asked if I wanted anything and of course, if I wanted to some along. So this is my Dad’s fine handiwork. He knows how to knot and I live in awe, without having enough practice in my life to be able to really learn his skills. I believe this is what he calls “the truckies’ knot”.

Naturally I was participating in an efficient trip to the composter (that’s how my family roll), so I was untying the load and unloading the cuttings on arrival and then loading up and… the long and short of it is, not many photos. The scale of this place is rather amazing, and the equipment they use to tumble and grade the compost is impressive.

Here is the display of all the grades of compost they sell, outside the office. A load of compost for me, a few bags of potting mix created onsite, some pea straw and some organic seeds and we were back on the road toward home! A most interesting place.

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Bias binding

For years, I’ve been making bias binding from old ties. I can’t believe I still have ties left to transform, but there it is. Step 1. Unpick them. It’s always a bit of a revelation to see how glorious the sewing lavished on some ties is, and how fine the fabric of the inner layers, while others are interfaced with paper or cardboard and held together with the minimum number of stitches and a bit of a whispered prayer. There’s a metaphor for something or other…

By the magic of a little gizmo called a bias binding maker, I end up with this! And then I had a go at binding the inside of a waistband. You know, like on some of my clothes that came from a shop! Well. Let it be said this waistband was not my finest sewing hour, though it will do the job. So here is the single, moodily lit (by which I mean DARK) photo of that waistband in process, looking quite good. For a few minutes 🙂

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A sock spurt, at last!

There has been a long period with little sock knitting. My life has changed so much that the places I had found in my life to knit socks seemed to have vanished. And in all honesty, there has also been hand stitching, social media, and so forth in some of those crevices. But–things have changed! I think it was partly just asking myself why socks had stalled, and realising that I still want to be knitting socks and perhaps I’m a better person when I do!

I delved into the stash and found that I had some Noro sock yarn! There is a lot I don’t like… the fact that the only shop I can go to in person that stocks it never has a lot of choice; the knots; the fact that it’s not plied; the yarn miles; and of course, the nylon! BUT what I fun knit Noro always is. Wild colour stretches that I would never dream up. These socks actually went to the same delightful person as the Grouse coloured pair and I think they will bring her great cheer in cold winters.

Here they are gracing her table moments after I’ve grafted the second toe!! And churned out in no time flat. And with the *cough* insertion of a small amount of handspun to eke out the last of the ball! Greeted with a grin and profound surprise…

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For the love of trees

Dear readers, I’ve been absent for a long while again. I think like many people I know, most things felt just too trivial to post about over quite a period this summer as our country felt the impacts of climate change through widespread severe drought, low rainfall, above average temeratures, and then–overwhelming bushfire. I wrote this post at the end of December with a broken heart and evidently didn’t post it. Here it is now.

Queensland Kauri (Agathis Robusta)

The current period in this dear land brings to mind fiddling while Rome burns. Instead of violin playing, we have governments authorising new oil, gas and coal mining over the protests of First Nations, scientists and activists while so much of this continent is on fire.

River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) in the foreground with a view over a misty winter Belair National Park in the background.

As summer really begins here, with temperature records already broken several times (in our city, 46C) I am like most people I know–worrying for those who have already lost so much; thinking of those living now in fear; full of gratitude and awe for those fighting the fires. We have friends who have already defended their homes, others watching and waiting and ready to leave, still others evacuated from catastrophic fire danger zones. My friends are grieving one of those who has died, someone I did not personally know. Other friends are grieving the loss of landscapes in which they spent years of backbreaking bush regeneration work.

Eucalyptus Nicholii with multiple trunks.

In a time of such heartbreak, I offer the love of trees.

White trunked Eucalyptus Camaldulensis against a blue sky.
An unknown eucalypt with many dead limbs.
Another Eucalyptus camaldulensis…
And a final E Camaldulensis in the grounds of the Waite campus of the University of Adelaide.

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High Vis vests

I’ve found them in op shops across two states… and they keep trickling in…

It’s a bit of recurring task, dealing with the Extinction Rebellion vests! We were given some pre-loved vests last year and Crafternoon gave me some patches… so eventually this job came to the top of my queue and I re-faced the vests. Well, one of them was just too far gone even for my tastes. I could not rehabilitate it even with two washes and trying several stain removal approaches!

Nothing too complicated going on here!

These go on to be used to keep people safe–doing small road swarms or doing banner drops–and here are a couple being used to make small people visible in a bike swarm…

They are also used to make marshals, arrest support and police liaisons visible and identifiable, where needed. And–we even use them at training so people can tell who is in what role in role plays!

Ah, the humble recycled high vis vest….

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Around the house

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that I reckon collective political action is what we need at this point in history. The science says we are now in such profound trouble on the climate emergency front that small scale individual actions, even multiplied many times, aren’t going to sort this out. We need to join together, get active and get vocal.

As I write, large parts of this country are on fire and in drought. Remote Aboriginal communities are living through record breaking temperatures without decent housing or airconditioning, or even guaranteed water supply. Daily life for many people here and all over the world, is hard. And our government has done all in its power to block progress on climate action in Madrid, as well as continuing to support coal, oil and gas mining at home.

Meanwhile, my quiet suburban life is an incredible privilege! While recognising the crucial role of collective action–we are all living day by day, and at that level ethics and educating ourselves form crucial parts of our daily lives. So here are some things I’m doing at home. I love hearing about what other folks are up to, so feel free to suggest!

Eat your weeds! Above are dandelion and sow thistle ready to be added into a silverbeet pie. Delicious, nutritious, easy–and motivating if you’re not a lover of weeding.

Litter picking. For me, this has become an end use for plastic bags that have gone past the point of being used in the kitchen, but have come into the house somehow. I pop one in my bag, along with a pair of gloves if that’s the main purpose of my walk, and pick up the trash I find around the neighbourhood. Sometimes I do it on my bike. Just stop at a messy spot and collect whatever is there.

[I digress to give you an image of a dung beetle. I was so excited when I saw it!! Surely the emblem of the litter picker if there is one…]

Compost it. I deal with our rubbish as close to our house as I can, and when the occasion arises, compost the street leaves dropped on our street, ditto for bark. The worm farm will accept natural fibre items that are beyond repair and reuse. I give a decent burial to the victims of cars and other sudden deaths in our suburb. I know what happens next will not be prettier as surely as I know that leaving a glass bottle in the street will likely lead to smashed glass unless I put it in my recycling bin.

Use it up! I’ve been working harder at making sure the wilted sad fruit and veg get their chance to be delicious dinner. Here, the no longer crisp apples become roasted stuffed apples, delectable (also super easy).

On the use it up front, I’m a maker of stock and have returned to what I used to do at the lowest ebb of income in my life–turning peelings, tops, celery leaves, sad and wilted vegetables and such, into the stock that makes risotto or lentil stew or whatever you fancy, sing.

More using up–as my beloved is on a gluten free diet, I’ve been making GF sourdough bread at home (YES!! Totally Possible). At times the freezer holds quite the collection of stub ends, crusts and such. I’ve discovered I can turn them into crumbs straight from the freezer, and since I make things like spinach pie with no pastry these days, I top them with these crumbs (yes, direct from freezer to dinner via food processor), a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and a drizzle of olive oil for a tasty, crunchy topping.

Sharing! I had some serious time on the couch (nothing life threatening–fret not) in the last while and I have been using the local free libraries and book nooks to swap books I’ve read for ones I haven’t, and keep books and magazines circulating. I’ve read books I would never have bought. I now find there are three book nooks like this one (in Penola! where I dropped in a book picked up in Mount Gambier and took away a historical novel) walking distance from my house.

BYO. I know you all do this too. Keep cups and all that. This is me at a stop on a long distance road trip. If I have access to two of these thermos things, I travel with breakfast in one (porridge or “bircher” muesli depending on the weather) and something hot and decent for lunch in the other. Often I grab cutlery from the drawer at home, but if the occasion seems likely to risk losing cutlery we want to keep, we have plastic cutlery that we had no choice about at some stage, saved for just such cases. I often attach it with a rubber band for simplicity’s sake.

Make your own. Sorry, not a food stylist! I know you do this too. I’ve had a breadmaking breakthrough and I love saving plastic that used to come into the house with double wrapped GF bread in particular, by making my own and making for friends.

But above all, take to the streets, and your phone, and your keyboard. Don’t be alone with your fear and despair, or with your longing for something to happen. Gather with friends. Make new friends. We need all of us to take action in defence of life on earth now.

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Silk noil dyeing

I had a happy moment dyeing at my daughter’s place in Melbourne–where the local park contains a Eucalyptus Crenulata. Too exciting! I had a small piece of silk noil with me in preparation, and loved the outcome.

One silk noil pillowcase made some time ago finally gave way completely, so I decided to continue the tradition of silk noil leafy pillowcases–and this one is now in my bedroom.

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