Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Among my Friends

I am taking a little more time with my fabric thimble today- feeling a little under the weather so I decided that I would share with you some of the wee friend I share my sewing room with. This is a lovely compostion doll from the US. I bought her now about 6 years ago.She is delightful and has all her own original clothes and even the tinest wee red shoes and socks. I love having my dolls and bears around as I work.The inspire me .

Today I am working on finishing another of my wee teddies. Today Twig is waiting for his leg to be completed.Hopefully then Twig will find a new home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fabric Thimble part 4

I hope you have finished sewing your thimble and it fits you great.It should be a firm fit as it will mold to yur finger in time. I decided I will use up my rat's nest of scrap embroidery threads. I get all these from friends who religiously buy the exact threads needed for an embroidery or cross stitch project and then kindly give me the left overs. I am thinking of making some bullion roses and lavender around my thimble.

Here is the start of my embroidery.I am going for crowded posy of little flowers.

I also decided to sew some old lace around the base for the ol' world feel. I love to get inspiration from some books in my library. Here are two that I find particularly beautiful.


The last book features Victorian keepsakes. It is a beautiful book with  pictures of old cards , embroidery and love Tokens. Just a joy to flip through. I thought I would add some more vintage braid to my thimble. This one features tiny bud roses on a black background. I love that a project like this can use so little of my precious and yet I can get to enjoy them.

I am going to continue to embroider the thimble on the top and sides. I will come back and show you what I have done. Please feel free to share with my what you are doing with your thimble. I would love to see pictures and will feature them on the blog for others to enjoy. Don't forget to send me your picture , where you are from and your name. You can mail me . I am excited to see what everyone is making...

Now go create beauty!You deserve it!

Little wonders

I have always like the idea of tiny. I adore minatures and doll houses, wee things in little boxes, tiny tins and the such. There is something almost childlike in the tiny. I read a beautiful story about Tasha Tudor the well known artist who used to have an on going game with her children as they grew up in a rural setting. They would make tiny minature letters and envelopes and post them in a knot hole of the tree near their home. Till today she has a collection of about 20 wee letters in the smallest handwriting - addressed with tiny stamps and all- letters written to the birds and beasts. I am facinated by such a notion. Delighted by the innocence.

The other day as I sat and sewed and mulled over the events of the recent days - I was thinking about  tiny things for a next project. I loved seeing the work of "matchbox stuffers" and woud love to do something like that soon. My heart was heavy and deeply saddened - trying to muster up the courage and strength to pack to leave our beautiful space here. I watched my chickens outside my window and decided that I would go and collect their eggs..To my utter delight I found among the eggs laid a special tiny one. It looked so precious laying there in the warm straw of the nest. Greg tells me that is the first egg after the hens have gone broody- someone has decided to lay again and the first egg though tiny was a promise of more to come.

That stuck a chord with me. Even tiny things can over time grow  into something hopeful. I saved that tiny egg and set is aside. We both need a little hope now..a little faith that tomorrow will be good.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thimble sew along part 3

Here is part 3 of our project. I am so pleased to have some friends along to sew with me. It is such a simple and easy project - great for days when you want to make something but really cannot muster up the energy to do more. I am sorry for the quality of the pictures today- my camera played up and I lost some of the in between steps I had photographed for everyone..Never mind.

Ok...now you would have pinned your 3 rectangles together - sew a blanket stitch all around . You can use any stitch you like really. Please don't be worried about your stitching and neatness - just enjoy the fun of making and sewing. Sew along all the edges - going through all 3 layers of felt you have cut out.

You will end up with a finished piece like this.Do the same with the felt circles for the top- stitch all three layers together and set aside.

You should have pieces that look like this now. Roll the rectangle int a tube short ends together and stitch together.( Sorry this is the picture I lost ) .You will have a felt tube with open ends. Pin the circle to the top of the tube. I put my pins in downwards all around. Stitch this down. Dont worry if the circle is slightly larger that the space in the top of the tube.You can trim it down - or just let it be. Catch and stitch the edges of the circle to the top of the rectangle tube.I use the stitching on both again as I weave and stitch through the old stitching.

Your thimble should look like this .

Check the fit on your finger. It should fit you perfectly. It is basically done. Now only to decorate it and have fun with your choices--- embroider , bead, applique - anything you want...I have some ideas to do mine up so I will come back tomorrow to share what I have been doing. Have fun and Happy sewing...I hope you will share your finished thimbles with me...they are really very comfy to sew with!


Remember that creating is not about perfection. It is about passion and a love for beautiful .Even if it is only beautiful in your eyes only. I recall being scolded and punished in school for needlework that was less than neat. It was a standard that as a child I could not achieve. So I hated sewing- just disliked it intensely. It did not help that some more proficient needle workers are critical of those who are just learning. Thankfully I came across some wonderful women along the way that taught me that sewing is all about love - not perfection. Stitching that is untidy, seams that are crooked and such do not mater.Relax and ask yourself "Are you having fun" Turn off the inner critic and tell everyone else who is not helpful to go away....settle in your corner of the world and create your own brand of beautiful.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fabric Thimble part 2

Sorry for the delay in posting the second part to this project. We had some awful news on Friday and really have been feeling so lost and sad. But life goes on and my crafts keep me sane and positive. So here is as promised our little sew along project.It is lovely to hear from some of you who will be making this with me.

First thing is to find our how long you want your thimble to be. I need mine about 3cm to protect my finger while sewing.Also wrap the tape around your finger for an exact fit. Make not eof these measurements as this will form your pattern- a thimble to just suit you. Even if you have longer finger nails you can make one to suit what you need.

Draw you measurements onto your fabric..I am using felt scraps but you can use anything you have around. I believe in being frugal and making do....

Cut out your pattern pieces. I am making mine quite thick  so I am cutting 3 pieces to stitch together.You can make yours thinner or sandwich batting in between.

I am using a coin to be a template for the top of the thimble. Again cut as many pieces to make the ideal thickness you will need. I am doing 3 circles again.

Pin the three rectangles together and stitch all around. I will be using a blanket stitch to do this.You can choose what stitch you enjoy working. I am planning to use a thread ( embroidery floss) that will stand out...maybe even a decorative stitch.When you have sewn all around the rectangles- curl it around your finger and stitch the two short ends of the rectangle together. You should now have a felt tube- ready to top off with your circles.

Do the same for the circles. Stitch all 3 together around the edges.

I got this lovely braid - felt fusion - usually meant for scrapbooking but lovely to decorate my thimble. So we will wait to see what I decide.

I will leave you now to do your cutting and stitch and come back again to show how to piece it together.

Enjoy till then.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making A Fabric Thimble for Sewing Part One


I thought I would dig into my stash to see what I had to do my thimble. This is what I found ....the two faces are simply cos they are so cute. Alot of my stash has come from a lovely elderly neighbour of mine Betty who gave me old bits and pieces from her sewing basket. I have decided to use a green and pink to make the base of my thimble. I am using my little bundle of felt scraps. Also bits of braids ,buttons ,beads and embroidery floss. I have not decided what to do on mine but it will evolve. I hope you will gather your stuff and stich along with me. I will post the pattern tomorrow.

Tea Party for one

I decided after being so inspired by one of our lovely followers to our blog - to get out my favourite little tea set.I don't have much - moves over the years seeing the sad end to some of my prettier finds. I have soured Op shops ( charity shops) to pick up pretty cups and saucers. My favourite being the old floral ones . A lovely gift from a neighbour of herbal tea the other day , also a lovely excuse to play tea party while I work on my crafts and bears. I have no one to share the morning with me so a lovely friend found in a vintage photograph will have to do. As I sit and drink tea and sew - I look over into the face of this young woman and try to imagine who she was and what she loved to do.

Today also I have been playing with some pieces to make myself some vintage style jewelry. Little domes to capture prints of vintage pictures. Lovely fun.I thought I would share with all of you.

These should form little charms for pendants or bracelets or for little bears to wear around their necks.  If anyone wants to join me - I will be making some little fabric thimbles with embroidery - to protect my fingers as I sew my bears. You will need scraps of felt , embroidery floss and beads or braids. I will post the start of the pattern tomorrow. Too many stabs with the needle while sewing. Let me know if you would like to stitch along with me. Email me or leave a message.

Go on have a wee tea party - even by yourself...you know you want to.....

Things that go Boom!!

What happens when two very young at heart  people have a spare $29.95..Hmmm? They buy fire crackers! Yesterday was Guy Fawkes - a traditional English holiday to remember some poor soul who tired to blow up parliament in England. But for us here in New Zealand - its a mightly fine excuse to make some noise and be children again. The sale of fireworks here is only allowed for the three days leading up to Guy Fawkes. Folk here buy them now and stash them away for holidays and New Year etc. I have never had the thrill of fire crackers growing up in a part of the world where they were banned. Too many fires and kids with missing fingers.Greg on the other hand recalls too many "great ideas" with the stuff that also required great speed and agility!!

So we decided it was a much needed soulful experience. Thanks to lovely friends and neighbours who zipped into town and got us our "boom box" - we were set. After dinner a trudge up the farm to the top of a paddock was required.Away from the animals and anyone who could be upset . We rationed out our stash for future celebrations and took a little bagful of treats to go make some noise.

What fun. To light each one - make a hasty retreat and stand in the darkness and enjoy. The noise , the bangs and the colours. We giggled and plotted like little children - which one should we do next? Which was the best ever..I looked over and saw in the face of my love - a little boy. What joy!!

It was such a catharsis to let fire works go - and to reflect . For me it was beyond escaping to see the parallel between events of the day and our tiny little explosions of joy. Often things arrive in our life , in the mail, in events and happenings that disturb our peace. They annoy , shake , aggravate and anger us- Sometimes even sadden us. But in reality they are really like fire works in a dark sky..making a big show of noise , and colour attracting attention but really meaning nothing. The night sky emblazoned by colour did not change or alter...nor did the stillness of the evening . Nothing changed beyond what we allowed.

We all have people in our lives and those held firmly on the outside , who will try to change or dictate to us- to control and to manipulate. It is so easy to become frazzled by them But really they mean nothing. They do nothing to alter us.

They make some noise and then go out. Both of us are learning to laugh as they go boom! and then turn our backs and walk away.

Next time someone in your life goes off like a fire cracker....just think of firecrackers on a lonely hill in New Zealand. Laugh and enjoy the show!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pretty Pin Cushions

One of our lovely visitors to our blog wrote me to say she liked my little pin cushion that was sitting on my work table. So I decided to share how simple it was to make up one and what a great chance to use up pretty scraps and precious finds. I love to have pretty things to work with- be it pencils or pin cushions . It just makes the task so much more fun. I love too the shabby chic style of things - so using old vintage ribbons or braids is a great way to go.

The instructions are just basic so if anyone gets lost along the way- just ask for help and I will explain.

There are no specfiic patterns to make your pin cushion - you decide on the shape and size you need. I made mine tiny as I wanted a wee thing to pop into my sewing case for sewing trips away from home. I wanted everything tiny but functional.

Pick a circle the size you want. I traced around a pretty box- so I could store my pin cushion in it when finished. Draw around the lid of your box. You will then need to cut out the circle from cardboard as a template and cut two circles from felt or fabric. I used scrap felt pieces.

Use your tape measure to measure around the side of the box lid to get your pattern for the sides of your pin cushion. From this you will cut a rectangle that length . The width of the rectangle will depend on your big you want your pin cushion to be. Your pattern should look something like the image below.

You will need to cut one rectangle from this - use your felt or fabric pieces. You may also want to cut contrasting braid or ribbon at the same time - in preparation to decorate your pin cushion.

You will sew the pieces together . One circle for the top and the other for the base. The rectangle will become the sides of your pin cushion. I use a blanket stitch to sew the pieces up. Stuff firmly. I read that stuffing your pin cushion with steel wool helped keep your pins sharp. I use regular scraps of batting.  Now is the fun part...go through your stash of buttons, braids and felt to cut out decorations. Sew and decorate as you like...

Have fun. let me know if you get stuck or need help or want to share your creations with me. You can email me or leave a comment on our blog....

Where should you bury your dog?

A couple of days ago I visited a friend. Our lives have been occupied by many and varied events since we last chatted and far too many months have passed with no communication between us. My friend has been ill, very ill and I worried about what state of health he might be in on this day.  As it turned out I found him better than I had hoped and worse than I had expected. I know that sounds strange but let me explain. His health issues were under control and he as he always did was facing his problems with courage and good humour but, last week, his dog died.
If you are not a dog owner this means a dog died. If on the other hand you have ever owned a dog then you know how deeply grieved and unsettled my friend was. He sadly told me that this past weekend was his first weekend since 1982 that he had been without a dog. Such a comment spoke volumes about this mans love of his dogs.
I sat with him as he recounted life with his dogs and remembered many wonderful adventures. With each new memory I too drifted into the past, to walk the hills with dogs now gone, feel their breath on my face and hear their insistent happy barking.
I  have led a life often connected with dogs. I currently own three and the passing of my canine friends has always left a huge hole in my life and heart. There is something quite unique about a relationship with a dog. A dog loves with no conditions and never tells you how you must act or dress. A dog isn't embarrassed when you forget to grow up, quite the contrary, it is a dogs greatest joy when you get down on your knees and roll in the grass with him or her, or better still, when you run and splash in the sea with abandon.
To say goodbye to a dog is to leave a part of your soul chasing the wind.
I saw the carefully laid grave of my friends dog and silently said a gentle goodbye to an old acquaintance who was always gracious in his welcome and gently polite as he sat next to my feet.
I have buried  my dogs in gardens and feilds up and down this country. I have carried the collar of one to our favorite hut in the hills to leave it there, tied to a rough cross. A testament of the spirit of that particular dog and the life we lived together. We deal with the passing of our dogs in many varied ways and each is appropriate to the dog and the person concerned. There is no right or wrong place to bury your dog, no sober or acceptable way to mourn such an indescribable relationship. But tonight I read a quote that went like this..."the only place to bury a dog is in the heart of its owner" and that I suspect is why we cannot describe what it is like. A dog doesn't just live in our physical lives he dwells in our heart.

Long live the dog!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Welcome Poco- A Mystic Hills Bear

Thank you to all who had such lovely things to say about my little bear. I enjoy making it and it is very much a joint effort with Greg helping with the stuffing and finding weighty things to fill little our little bear. I think half the fun or more of the life we have chosen is that we get to share so much of it together as a couple. I love going out on the farm with Greg and learning how things work and what needs to be done. I have learnt so much in the time I have lived here and am so fortunate to have a gentle and well informed teacher in Greg.Greg's input and skill too is such a big part of  what I create .Be it scrambling up bushes to cut down twigs for me to weave with- or shearing fleece for me to spin- or emptying pellets  out of a shot.

Part of the joy in living for me is the process of learning- I love to learn new stuff. What I learn and how much is less of an issue in comparison to the actual act of discovering something new. The internet for me is a wonderful source to meet with people who have new ideas and abilities. My love for art and creating is even more heightened by seeing the work of others and having the opportunity to talk to others who are working with new mediums and designs.

Poco is a new design tedddy bear that I am experimenting with- the notion of appeal and personality is more an issue in such a bear than proportion and realism. It is truly my sort of thing.

Poco will be listed for sale soon - so if anyone of you out there wants to give him a home - email me at whiskerssue@yahoo.com or leave a comment on our blog

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bears and Souls


Its been a long time since I have settled down to make  a bear. I love the creative and magical aspect of creating  a little being out of  fur fabric , stuffing and other bits and pieces. I have been regularly amazed at how something as small as a little bear can reach past many adult defences and find in an instant what remains of the child. Me, I have never grown up - ask Greg who lives with me and shares his home with all manner of fluffy creations. My work table  is a mess of little cute tins, beads, dolls, and stuff ( my collective term for all that I have!) For me these things are so much part of my personality....I love the cute.

Yesterday I packed a wee pouch of my sewing things - parts of a teddy bear in progress and headed off with Greg into the city. We make rare and hasty visits to the big smoke -  happier in our small rural towns instead. Greg had an appointment and I settled myself into a corner of the local library to wait. After looking at anything and everything book-wise that I fancied - I settled into a corner to sew my little bear. Isnt' it lovely to have a wonderful little pouch crammed with creative potential. I love unzipping my pouch to find a sweet hand made pin cushion, my pretty scissors and my bear pieces.As I worked , I noticed an older lady come by and deposit an empty cardboard box by me. She then proceeded to load it up with a selection of books from the large print section of the shelf. We did not look at each other or even exchange nods. There was so much distance between us inspite of the fact we were less that 2 feet apart. I noted her face- a hard and determined expression - an almost single mindedness in her task.  She struck me as a woman who had not time for idle chit chat or other such trivial stuff . She loaded up books into her box and I sewed.

As she got ready to leave - she picked up her box now loaded with about 20 hardback books and struggled with the weight. I offered to help her. She declined and said she could could. cope  We exchanged smiles . Acknowledged the space we each shared in time. Then her curiosity got the better of her. "What are you making" she asked. I popped out from my little sewing pouch - the head of an unfinished teddy bear. In an instant I caught a glimpse of a different person- age and time stripped off. Pain and the years melted- instead in her place - the eyes of a young soul - excited and child like .Mesmerized by the little creature I had produced from my hidden pouch.She made a little squeal of of delight and spoke to me some more about my creation.

I was struck by how deeply embedded our true spirits are as we grow up...grow old. We mortgage  our childlike glee for the sensible, curb giggles for calculated humour , stiffle the belief in magic for reality and practicality.

We age .

I love making my little bears - it is my tap into my own soul.The part of me that really believes what I create is a "real thing" not just fur and stuffing. I talk to my creations and enjoy the emerging personality. In some circles - I would be promptly put into extensive therapy. But I am happy- and who does it hurt anyway. I cannot willingly exchange my fantasy for the colourless reality on offer anyway.

Teddy bears are not in the world's eyes practical...they collect dust and do nothing - really. But in my world they reach in an instant - deeper inside someone in ways I cannot understand. I saw it for myself yesterday- an old woman come beside me in the library and ......a child walked away.

The bear I am making above is a tiny one- of the Anime style...funny and goofy and such a joy to create . I hope once sold - he will add some sparkle to someone's world....and Yes - it is a He . How do I know?...ahhh...he whispered it to me as I sewed.

I will post a picture once he is done.Let me know if anyone out there wants to buy him and offer him a new home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The playpen


Here are my little charges at the moment in the play pen! All three are being bottle fed 4 times a day with milk. Bubbles (left ) is a guest while his owners are away . Amelia ( middle)  was an orphan that Greg saved by emergency C section. Sadly her siblings did not survive. And Peanut ( right) came to us on Friday after being found by Greg near death , huddled all on his own. He was out alone and hungry the night before when we had some horrible weather. He may have lost this mother or was an orphan too. We are very lucky to have him as he was so ill and cold. He spent a night by the fire and was tube fed the next day by Greg. Thankfully he survived but is still quite frail and wobbly on his feet. Each one of our lambs has a personality and uniqueness of their own. The really are such a joy to have around.

Edna the mummy!

Thank you to everyone who visits and share with us what they enjoy in our blog. We are delighted to share our simple way of life with all of you. As promised , here is more of the family at Mystic Hills. Edna our hen is now mom to 3 little chicks and what a great mom she is too!!We have yet to name the wee chicks yet but suggestions are always welcomed...We hope you enjoy the pictures.

Greg and I also write for an online Homestead magazine under the Poetry , Stories and art column.

Saturday, October 17, 2009



I have had an interest in traditional crafts for a long time. Perhaps it is the nostalgic romantic perceptions of a slower time or the fact that many implements of such crafts - spinning wheels , weaving looms etc were beautiful and functional objects in themselves. Several years ago on a holiday trip , I eagerly purchased a weaving loom . It was a simple Ashford rigid heddle loom . It was placed into my arms all neatly boxed up  and I was delighted. I ignored the comments of others on my holiday, who suggested the notion of "white elephant" .I was instead enthralled with the prospect of lovely rough textures hand woven fabric. I anticipated the wonderful clicking sounds that a working loom makes. It was to be a long time before that loom could be unpacked and set up . But it was the start of a life long love for the loom. I have since bought several others from simple frame looms . to the rigid heddle loom and to the wonderful 4 shaft loom. I still have my eye out for an affordable floor loom with foot pedals.

I have not had the benefit of practical teachers but I have gleaned what I know from books and online weaving friends who always amaze me with their gentle willingness to teach and explain what must be for them the most simple of things. These ladies weave wonderful things on their looms of varying sizes. They are able to design wonderful patterns and create expanses of unique cloth from the work of their own hands. I simply love this notion. To take and create something truly wonderful.

I am moving towards using only my own home spun yarn - created on my spinning wheel- to use in my weaving but for the moment I am working on using up my stash of yarn scraps .I learn very much through trial and error. At the moment I am weaving a colourful runner with a pattern called hop scotch . This involves a doubling of weft thread across the warp threads. It creates a lovely closed even weave. I am enjoying seeing how this unfolds.

I still have so much to learn - but the wonderful resource books I have will lead me through this process. I have promised Greg one day an lovely handwoven cloak . Homespun yarn dyed from native bush dyes and hand woven with love.

For those of you interested- my loom in the pictures is a Teko Teko loom - made in New Zealand. This small and study loom made in beautiful native Rimu also converts into a 4 shaft and inkle loom. It is set up as a rigid heddle a the moment.

I hope you enjoy seeing what I am working on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lifes little Teachers.

We've been docking these past weeks. That very busy time where we muster all the new lambs and their mums off the hills and dock tails, castrate, vaccinate, treat for fly and count how successful lambing has been. Its a fun time even though the actual task is somewhat messy and unpleasant. Fun because we do it together, the whole family and anyone else who happens to be around and unoccupied. Fun because the whole success or failure of the farming year hinges on the number of lambs that survive to form the trading base of our operation. I always look forward to knowing the results of our decisions and management practices of the past few months. Of course some things are beyond our control and if the weather has been particularly unkind docking can be more like a disaster assesment. This year we had unseasonal snow and cold heavy rain that left a trail of dead lambs in its wake. Although unfortunate that is the challenge of farming. Doing your best and then doing your best again should things not work according to plan.
It was not however the fortunes, good or bad, of lambing that caught my attention the other day on the hill. It was something rather more attitudinal you might say.
Mustering young lambs can be a challenge at the best of times and things can easily go horribly wrong especially when approaching gateways. The combination of mis-mothered panic stricken lambs and exhuberant excitable young dogs in an ever decreasing space means the smallest of misjudgements can be the difference between a clean muster or several hours wasted regathering the escapees.
We have had our share of misjudgements by both shepherd and dogs this week, but we have had some satifiying successes too. It was while approaching just such a pressure point on a muster that had gone exceedingly well up to that point that I learnt a major lesson in life from watching what happened next.
A largish mob of ewes with triplet lambs (alot of lambs) was approaching the gate to the yards. Two shepherds with  four dogs between us had the mob in hand and our partners and another dog were holding a potential escape route around the head of a gully. Everyone was well postioned and the sheep were moving pleasingly forward. Suddenly one old ewe broke away down hill with a determined look in her eye. Everybody tensed and shifted slightly to cover the escape, and the only dog left out of the action broke free of its tie and came to 'help', running through the gateway in front of the mob. The whole mob spun around and suddenly we were faced with several hundred lambs and their nervous mothers intent on breaking the ring of dogs and people that surrounded them. Now disorientated as to the direction of the gate, our preferred escape for them, they were ready to charge at any percieved weakness. A vital moment. For perhaps five long seconds or more nobody moved a muscle. Nobody.
And this was the lesson. Nobody moved because everybody was in the right place and if you are in the right place then moving is the wrong thing to do no matter what you are faced with. Many people, myself included are fooled into rushing around trying to placate or plug the gaps or 'do' something to make life better. We do this because we are either in the wrong place, space or mind set, or we believe that we are in the wrong place, space or mindset because someone has turned life around on us.
The truth is standing still, holding your ground can be the best solution. Waiting, in the right position, although difficult, can achieve far more positive results than panic actions based on fear or insecurity, whether yours or others.
Those lambs danced on their toes and mock charged us all. But faced with unmoving opponents they turned and flowed through the gate like magic.

As we breathed or thanks and patted our dogs I reflected on how even lambs can teach us valuable lessons about living successfully. All it takes to learn is a moments stillness.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Simple Pleasures

The last few days here have seen a return of the icy cold weather, rain and snow in some parts of the country . Still I must admit I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Time to light the wood fire , snuggle under blankets with hot Milos and read. Time to just listen to the rain and the wonderful sound it makes against the roof of our little home. It is very much for me a soul time. A time when my inner self slows down and talks to the rest of me. Recently I have been thinking more than ever of the old fashioned crafts women had. The sewing , spinning , weaving and such. Hours spent pouring over an embroidery or knitting a pattern that would warm a loved one. I wonder where it all has gone. Why we have chosen to give up such soothing pursuits in return for the store bought items that fill our cupboards?. The other evening  . with the rain pattering against our windows- I pulled out my little sewing basket and took out a pair of old trousers that Greg needed to have mended. I used my old darning mushroom - a wooden creation essential to old sewing baskets everywhere to patch and mend and darn.  I love darning socks as well. A thorough waste of time I have been told when one can nip into any shop and pick up a new pair for next to nothing. Still it cant replace the satisfaction I feel as I patch and mend and darn our clothes that  are tested by our farm work.

I have given time over the last few years to the collecting of old needlework tools. Darning mushrooms, rug hooks, old buttons and the like. I love peering into someone's sewing basket - sadly often seen in auctions- to discover a collection of well worn and loved tools. Tools that have served women as they mended clothes and fixed missing buttons. I read that there was seldom an empty basket of mending - as clothes always needed to be restored , saved, altered and stretched for yet another season. We could look at such a task as the result of poverty or lack or choose instead to view them as the simple need to make do with less and keep what they had for more essential things. These little work baskets would be pulled out after dinner - by the fire as the mending began. Young girls would learn to sew and mend and embroider at a young age.Often their skills today would astound many of us as we look at our own up coming generation of young girls obsessed with the latest cell phone or trendy outfit. How far removed these two worlds are now. And how sad. I feel so much that there will come a time when such material things though wonderful playthings will never fill a heart or nourish a soul.

This  week I have given focus to my little work basket of sewing. Run my fingers across the worn tools - inherited or bought. Celebrated the skills I have and the desire to learn more. Tidied up needles and spoons of thread, sorted and tidied. It is a task that I enjoy and centers me. It is a joy to be celebrated and enjoyed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baby Chicks are here!!

Well the long wait is over and our little baby chicks hatched yesterday. All four eggs hatched safely and we have four new additions to the Mystic Hills family. There are two yellow ones , a little black ones and a yellow one with racing strips down its back!! They are tiny!Coming from little bantam hens - our chicks are about 5cm big. We are waiting for two more eggs to hatch next week. We hope you enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Of those before me.

The first flush of a warm spring has faded into the more normal cold wet crappy weather that plagues attempts to complete any outdoor task. As I sit researching an article for my column in Homesteadernews, my feet cold and rain running down the window panes I am reminded of the privations of those who were here before us. (By the way if anyone knows anything about NZ roadmen please contact me, gwilson@no8wireless.co.nz and please visit homesteadernews.com) There were of course many early pre-European peoples of whom I do not pretend to know much about and so will not guess at how they lived here if indeed they ever did. It is with the early European settlers that I empathise. The backbreaking work of felling the forests for timber and pasture production. Cutting roads from the rock with only shovels and picks. All in the legendary cold wet of the NZ bushclad mountains. There was no high tech clothing to wick away the moisture, no specialist rainwear such as I use to keep me dry in all weather. Just coarse homespun woven wollen garments that must have steamed and chafed when wet and probably dispelled little water after the fisrt hour or so. What they endured when several days or even weeks of rain had passed makes me shiver. There were few  finished houses such as mine in those days. Most of the early settlers in these parts would've lived in rough bush constructions that leaked badly and had dirt floors (the building pictured would have been one of the better examples in later years of settlement). Certainly huddling by the fire on a day such as this would have been some comfort but damp bedding and mimimal space try even the most stoic of us. I've camped like that before and the trials of wet firewood, endless damp and cramped conditions had me considering acts of madness by the end of a week let alone months as have been recorded in some instances.
I guess I am somewhat in awe of those folks. Filled with a dream and hope and little else they had often sailed halfway around the world to carve out a place of their own. They had no option to return, it was do or die. Many died. Quite a number were beaten by the harsh environment or economic hardship or a combination of both. Some however perservered and succeeeded. It is these I owe such a debt of gratidude to. They fill me with optimism when the weather and the global financial crises combine. Their example of unrelenting perseverance in the face of what can only be described as soul breaking challenges humbles me and imparts a courage from beyond myself. The fruit of thier labour has set the stage for the life I now enjoy and though many complain of what they did wrong, sitting here on such a cold wet day I cannot find it within me to judge what I cannot know except from the comfort of its success.