Monthly Archives: November 2014

Port Pirie

I took photos of our trip to Port Pirie and thought I would share some. I admit there was sock knitting on the road but I didn’t think to take a photo of that.  And of course, there were our lovely hosts and their beloved and very smart dogs… and many other friendly folk whose permission to appear here has not been obtained.

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It was overcast when we left home.  The wide open road of so many Australian songs (and so many from the US) is indeed a feature of travelling our rather denuded state.
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When we arrived in Napperby there were trees, and they were gorgeous.  I know, I know.

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Also, unidentified insect life living on some of the trees.

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There was a quandong in full flower.  I have never seen so much flower on a quandong or been so conscious of the scent!

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Dried fruit and seed under the quandong.

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I haven’t seen a case moth in ages, and look at the wonderfully subtle flowers on this shrub.

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Overcast, wonderful early evening light at Napperby.

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…with a eucalypt in all its glory and the Flinders Ranges in the distance…

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Part of the port part of Port Pirie in the early morning gloom.

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And a little more of the view over the water…

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Sunny harvest time wheat fields and the pink salt lake near Lochiel on the way home. (There is a very funny “Lochiel Ness monster” made of half car tyres in this lake, but we didn’t score a good enough picture to share the joke.

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Wind farm in the distance near Lochiel.


Filed under Eucalypts

Special socks for special feet

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These socks are for my beloved.  I know, we’re headed into summer and they won’t see wear for some time to come.  But when winter comes, they will be welcomed.

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Let it be said that apart from the fact that they are for the feet of my beloved and that’s more than special enough  for me… those feet did the Port Pirie triathlon this week!  Port Pirie is an industrial city about two and a half hours away, on a road I have travelled way more times than I could count, visiting family north of Adelaide.  It was a mighty cold morning for swimming, but they did it anyway.

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That’s the lead smelter stack you can see in the background distance below and on the left.  Apparently still the highest human structure in the country.

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I did not do the swim, cycle and run… I acted as photographer and general cheer squad to my sweetheart’s triumph.  In between action shots, there were, or course, trees to admire!

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Filed under Eucalypts, Knitting

Additions to the dye garden

It’s a mighty busy time of year in my day job, which is why it has been quiet here at the blog.  That, and a series of lovely house guests.  Those present in the flesh trump the online world on an average evening at our place!  However, life has been busy at home too.  Propagating and planting is going all out so long as the serious heat holds off.  I even have a few Japanese Indigo seedlings, though this morning some of them had been chewed in the night.  There is a period in summer here where planting anything seems merely unkind and doomed to failure, but we’re not there yet.  I have been germinating and planting out, and there has been guerilla gardening too… but I digress.

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A few weeks ago, I had some surprise purchases at the annual Herb Society fair.  I cycled up there with friends who had brought a picnic and we came home laden with plants and seeds… it was a lovely day.  I have been to the fair many times looking for dye plants and failing to find them.  One year I succeeded in buying madder, which was very exciting.  This year, though, I bought woad!  Who knows what will come of it, but I have two plants and they are thriving in the vegie beds so far.  I had managed to buy seed but have never grown even one seedling.

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Then there was weld!  I decided to bring it home in spite of all the other sources of vegetable yellow.  we’ll see where that leads, too.  And finally, this rather spectacular form of sorrel.  Nothing to do with dye that I know of, but it does promise some pleasurable and spectacular summer eating…

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Filed under Dye Plants, Neighbourhood pleasures

The quest for Eucalyptus Polyanthemos continues

One weekend recently, I went to Norwood.  Well, really, I was deposited in this well heeled inner Eastern  suburb while my beloved went on a mission further from home, with a plan for collecting me on her way back.  The idea was that I would look for a birthday present for my Mum.  I had a few other goals in mind that involved the very nice bookshop there and a bit of random wandering.

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At some stage I decided a gelati would be perfect, as you do, given the chance.  So, gelati in hand, I wandered away from the main road and down a side street to see what I could see.  There on a bank sloping down to an unlovely carpark were some glorious sheoaks and some not-so-common eucalypts.  To me they seemed like plausible instances of E Polyanthemos, but the tallest I had ever seen.

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The evidence there had been many-anthers was all over the ground.  I think my eyes were caught by the fluttering of somewhat oval leaves in the breeze.

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Before long I was climbing the bank and dodging the cars.  Some of the trees had been cut and had re-sprouted with juvenile leaves that were almost round, and quite large.  My manual (Holliday and Watton’s Gardener’s Companion to Eucalypts) says ‘The juvenile leaves are blue and almost circular, the apex notched.’  Round, yes.  Blue, yes.  Notched?

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One thing led to another, as it so often does (well, in my case)… so I picked a small sample and tucked it in my bag.

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After a long walk and as much shopping as I could take, I sat myself down at a bus stop and waited for the return of my beloved.

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This morning I unwrapped the resulting bundle… very pleasing.



And another from the same pot… which is a little greener than the picture suggests…


And now for today’s completely gratuitous flower picture. This poppy is a completely different colour from any of its predecessors.  You have to love nature, and the frolicsomeness of bees rolling around in pollen…



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Knitting achievement

There has been some long awaited knitting achievement in this household recently. My skills with a camera don’t show it off to best effect, but this photo gives the best sense of the colours involved.

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This is Color Affection by Veera Valimaki, for those who don’t inhabit Ravelry… this pattern has been knit a lot of times!  When I took it to the local knitting group, its name was called aloud by each new person arriving, and it was also recognised at the Guild last night.  It is a simultaneously very clever pattern and straightforward to knit.  When I was sick, I spent hours garter stitching back and forth with a stop to think things over only at the end of each (ever lengthening) row.

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Years ago, beloved friends in Denmark gave me four skeins of 4 ply (fingering weight) yarn–the other one is yellow.  They were so beautiful.  Apparently the wool is handspun, (by a very skilled spinner), and perhaps naturally dyed, my friends didn’t know. It isn’t soft, in fact it is a little on the coarse side, certainly not for next to the skin.  I have admired these skeins very much over the years I have had them, waiting for my skills and confidence to be up to putting them to good use.

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I think my friends had in mind a cardigan of the style very much in favour in Denmark–and very beautiful–colourwork with a steeked front and pewter clasps.  I still couldn’t do it now, though I was touched by their confidence in my knitting skill!  When I received this gift the thought of knitting something so large with such fine yarn, in colourwork, without a pattern and with no certainty I had enough wool… I was profoundly intimidated at the prospect!  Anyway, finally one day it came to me–and over a year later, here is the shawl.  I’m delighted with it.  Perhaps I’ll knit another!

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In the garden, we are bracing for the scorching heat to come.  Australian summers are long and very hot in this part of the country, and likely to become more so as inaction on climate change continues, especially in our beloved continent.  However, right now there is a lot of flowering, seeding and harvest going on.  It’s the blessed moment before you start to wonder if anything will make it through summer!  The rhubarb is massive and I decided it needed fewer leaves to get through tomorrow’s predicted 37C heat.  Perhaps I need more rhubarb in my diet, too.  That could only be wonderful!  The beetroot are in the oven roasting for a salad with a yoghurt dressing.I suspect the carrots will be bitter, but they will find a place on the menu too.

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The poppies go on and on.  It’s wonderful to be out in the garden before breakfast (I put more seeds in this morning) and hear the bees busy in the flowers.  This poppy was the most exciting to the bees this morning…


Filed under Knitting, Neighbourhood pleasures


India Flint posted some time ago about a new project of hers called Solace.  It speaks to lots of issues I think about a good deal.  Holding tough issues like climate change in my mind a lot, I found the concept of solace as a companion on that path a piece of genius.  She has asked for participants to make flags that could form part of an installation: ‘a collective impromptu poem, recorded on cloth, to sing in the winds’.  I love this idea too.  I pitched it to a group of friends who meet to figure out what we might be able to do about climate change.  We were thinking about despair and discouragement and how to respond to these things, and Solace seemed like one way to me.

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I packed my threads and other necessaries (and dinner…).  The core concept is to create a triangular flag (pennon) with a word or words stitched on it–so we needed thread and cloth.

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I also packed fabrics to share around… this one is a print of an extremely fine-leaved native she-oak… and sadly I wrote its name down in a very special secret place I cannot find now…

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This print resulted from a tip India gave me at her workshop.  It was so exciting when I unwrapped this bundle it is hard to believe months have passed without my having another attempt at that glorious green!  My dear friend took this piece of fabric home with some marigold-dyed thread for him to finish later.  There are some others in development too…

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This one is a print from a friend’s pecan leaves.  India proposes: ‘Stitch on it a word or a phrase or a sentence that might act as a wish for peace or an acknowledgement of beauty, imply a sense of stillness or simply something that  gives you solace. It can be as brief or as long as you like. A haiku, a snatch of song, a word that takes you where you want to be.’

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Now for the confession.  I can’t quite believe that I managed to take my eye off the rather simple instructions and make these shapes and not triangular flags as requested. Do not follow my example in this respect!  I am not sure how I’ve become so forgetful, or so bad at following instructions!

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I will either have to make some more–which I might do anyway for sheer pleasure and participation’s sake–and keep these ones at home–or just send these and hope that they will be OK in a crowd of triangles.  Perhaps with some triangular pennons for company.

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So… there is my start on joining in Solace for now. Anyone else participating?

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Filed under Craftivism, Leaf prints, Sewing