Introducing "Harvesting the Heavens"

 
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Good golly I'm excited to be announcing this today!  It has been such a long time in coming, but finally here we are.  Here I am, a happy little home-owner, sharing the news that as of the last week in June (nearly three months ago! Really?), we are now officially harvesting rainwater.  Woot woot!! 

To top this off, South Australia - 'the driest state in the driest inhabited continent on Earth' - has just had one of the wettest Winters on record!  And then match that with the craziest of early Spring downpours where last week, over a twenty-four hour period, we received more than 100mm of rain!!!  That's nearly the average for a whole month during the depths of a wet wet Winter and this was just one day, and a Spring day at that!  There was flooding everywhere, including our cellar... eeek!  With my gumboots on, I waded down into that cellar to investigate only to learn that the water was not coming in through a leak in the walls or the ventilation grid, but it was ground water.  The earth was so saturated the rain could no longer penetrate and soak into the ground and so above the surface it sat until over the following few days it drained away.  I need to do a little clean up down there and hopefully a few heatwaves over the Summer and maybe a fan to circulate the air should dry it out again.  I'm also thinking some hessian bags filled with peat could soak up some wetness and then I can use it in the garden afterwards.  Although if I'm honest, it's the original cellar for this 136 year old home and so that typical damp mustiness is just part of the territory. 

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The reason for all this rain talk is that in the two and a half months since those rainwater tanks of ours were installed and officially plumbed, they are now at CAPACITY!  Unbelievable!!  They were each sitting at about half full at the end of last month (end of Winter) and with that rain last week I witnessed the overflow pipe running!  Apparently there is more rain coming over the next couple of weeks so I'll have to attached some flexible temporary piping to channel anymore overflow to where I need it most but right now, there really is nowhere that actually needs it.  That's quite a rare thing to be able to say and I am thrilled that this dry dry corner of the world is entering into our warmest and most searing months with full reservoirs, hydrated earth and for us in our own backyard, two 10,000 litres of rainwater with which we can nourish our garden over the Summer.  Thank you Mother Nature, I am ever so grateful!

So finally, without any further adieu, I bring you the newest page under the Progress heading...

Harvesting the Heavens

Enjoy friends, click through for a read and have a great week ahead xo

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The Craft Sessions 2016

 
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Today it's all about the photos!  There's plenty here but you may notice a few gaps from the weekend - I'll tell you why in a sec. 

When I went to The Craft Sessions last year I chose two full day workshops, both exploring skills I was interested in and keen to try, but had not yet done so.  They were dyeing with Australian native plants and textile collage.  I loved them both but this year I decided to get a little more practical with my preferences.  It was possibly the only way I was going to narrow down the delicious smorgasbord of workshops on offer!  I very nearly put spoon carving and ceramics down for my first choices and I most certainly did add them to the preference list, but this time I really wanted to practise areas that I am more likely to truly use in my everyday crafting life.

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So my classes for this year were:

Garment Sewing - Knit Leggings with Anna Ng (Friday afternoon)

Knitting - Clever Cast Ons and Bind Offs with Kirsten Johnstone (Saturday morning)

and Handwork - Embroidery Sampler with Elizabeth Barnett (Sunday)

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And here's where I'll explain about the gaps!  The knit leggings class was fantastic and I can't wait to sew many, many more and then I can actually have some decent leggings to wear - am I the only one who struggles to find such things?  I came away with a great pattern and enough confidence in knit fabrics to be able to select wisely.  I can certainly cheat with the waist band but if I want to get all fancy then I now have a double needle and I've even discovered what on Earth stretch nylon thread is and looks like.  The class ran for four hours and there was a lot to do!  So much in fact, that I did not stop to take one single photograph!  Not one!!!  And that is the reason for gap number one. 

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After some much needed sleep I woke to have a yummy breakfast on the Saturday morning and made my way to Clever Cast Ons and Bind Offs with Kirsten.  And here is the second gap.  Part way into the class I went down with the vomits.  I know right?  Boooo!  Who knows what it was... tummy bug?  Dodgy airport food from the day before?  I don't know.  It came out of nowhere and came on hard and fast.  After delicately excusing myself from class I spent the rest of the day and evening holed up in my room with the bathroom bin next to me in bed.  My roomy came in sometime in the afternoon and sounded the alarm.  Fel and the girls took such great care of me with text messages to make sure I was okay and room service for dinner, by which stage I had started to come good and actually felt hungry again.  I did keep myself quarantined and my roomy relocated to another cabin just in case.  So anyway, that's why I missed getting pics of Kirsten's class and I missed the mini-market on Saturday afternoon too!  Last year I picked up the most gorgeous yarn and fabric from that market... ahhh sigh, maybe next year :)

On a brighter note, I woke up Sunday morning back in action and eager for breakfast and a day of embroidery.

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Not mine!  This beautiful rosette was a sample stitched by Elizabeth, as are the two works below.

Not mine!  This beautiful rosette was a sample stitched by Elizabeth, as are the two works below.

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This one is mine, or the beginnings of it anyway ;)

That one above is mine, or the beginnings of it anyway ;)

The results from all of us students at days end.

The results from all of us students at days end.

A small word about something else.  Once you collect your key from the TCS gals and make your way to your room, there is something so very super duper special that awaits you.  It's your Goodies Bag!  Oh . My . Goodness . Gracious . Me!!  The Goodies Bag!  Let me tell you it is FULL of the most exquisite crafter delights.  There's fat quarters, a pattern, samplers, discount cards galore, mini skeins and so much more.  I could show you pics of the whole lot but I think that would be teasing, instead, I'll leave you with this wee little taste...

Happy week ahead, friends xo

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ps/ excuse the wacky light tones... golden in the dining room from all that warm timber paneling, and all sorts in the Falcon Room.  It's really hard to get some kind of balance so I didn't bother fiddling with settings, I just snapped away merrily instead.

 

Behind The Scenes At TCS 2016

 
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TCS is the fond abbreviation for The Craft Sessions and for the last two years I have treated myself to this weekend retreat of ultimate indulgence.  It takes a bit of juggling to get myself onto the plane what with organising the care of my two little people, plus a dog, a cat and our home.  I am super grateful that this year the kids shared their days between my Mum (Granny) and some family friends of ours.  And the furry creatures stayed at home where they are most comfortable and our beloved babysitter stepped in once more to house-sit (she took care of things while we were up in Queensland last month too). 

Until last year, I had never been to the Yarra Valley and back then I did not allow myself any extra time to explore.  I remember driving through that picturesque area and longing so deeply to have more time to soak it all in.  This year I made sure I did just that!

I caught the first flight out (one of those pre-dawn red-eyes that leave you questioning your sanity), collected my hire car and was quickly on the M80.  It wasn't long before I was surrounded by the lush green, barely Springtime vista that explodes from every corner of the Yarra Valley.  The Valley boasts rich fertile soils, quaint homesteads, rolling hills, vineyards, farmers and producers of all kinds.  It's an absolute feast for all your senses and I definitely gorged on all things weathered, rustic and rural. 

I'm going to continue sorting through and editing my photos of crafty goodness this weekend, but for now I really wanted to share a little from the Yarra Valley itself.  Including my tales of getting fabulously lost and how much of a buzz I get from adventures such as this.

Many folks have wondered why I hire a car only to have it sit there at the retreat venue for those couple of days.  I see their point, although I still wouldn’t swap that quiet time by myself for anything.  I am someone who is perfectly comfortable with my own company and in fact, given I don’t get much of it, I absolutely relish the opportunity to crank the tunes, explore on my own terms and allow my thoughts to drift (uninterrupted... erhum hands up all us parents).  That time is GOLD!  And to be able to choose my own playlist and not have to swap between the kids favourites... oh, it's just too good!  My choices for this trip rotated between Yo La Tengo’s Fade, Sahara Beck’s Bloom and Katrina & The Waves Walking On Sunshine.  I know, I have the most eclectic taste in music!  And the spectrum doesn’t just end there… it really is a full rainbow kaleidoscope depending on what I'm in the mood for.

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With a few hours up my sleeve on the way there last Friday, I took to some back roads.  I pulled over, I parked, I wandered and I even sat with a pot of tea in a quiet little cafe.  That shiny red car served me well ;)

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The Craft Sessions wrapped up late in the afternoon on Sunday and it’s becoming tradition for me to stay at a B&B in the area and book a flight home the next morning.  I booked a late morning flight so that I could have a relaxed start to the day and possibly do a little more exploring on the way back.

Well I might have stretched that idea a little too far this time.  You see, I decided to rebel against my GPS and follow the street signs that led to "Melbourne" instead.  Little did I know that those signs were taking me into the heart of Melbourne and into the thick of traffic.  I realized this just in the nick of time and decided to duck and weave my way back through the country side and hopefully find the M80 Ring-route I had initially intended upon.

And that’s where the real adventure began!  I got beautifully and delightfully l.o.s.t!!!  And I made discovery after discovery with the absolute best one being a little town called, Warrandyte (sorry, I can't find a decent link).  It is apparently a suburb of Melbourne but, oh my goodness, I'm calling it a town because the connotations of suburb seem to insult it's beauty.  This town had me seriously considering missing my flight.  By this stage I was at great risk of doing just that, I really didn’t have the luxury to dilly-dally anymore.  I was still somewhat lost and was putting all my faith in the Universe and a whole lot of trust into that little blue line on the GPS, and the pulsing blue dot indicating me and my current location.  It was leading me through Warrandyte plus a few other towns and then onto the M80.  I was pushing it to say the least!  I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t take a single photograph, but what I saw through that car window was enough to steal a little piece of my heart.  Really, truly!!!  Warrandyte, I’m coming back for you next year, I need to walk your streets, sip a pot of tea in that quaint little corner café and maybe hunt out the best coffee in town too.  Your Op-shop (thrift store) is calling me and, oooh, to browse that Linen & Larder store.  I want to play at that nature playground and admire The Stonehouse Gallery, then wander that Folkart shop that flickered past my periferal vision and definitely, definitely take lots and lots of photographs.  Perhaps I will even find a sweet little B&B to rest my weary head as well ;)

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I didn't miss my flight.  I made it back safe 'n' sound with just enough time to duck in home before picking the kids up from school.  So it's Friday now and that was Monday.  Pretty fabulous way to kick off this week, I'd say!

Happy weekending friends and stay tuned for this coming Monday when I bring you all the crafty delights from The Craft Sessions itself xo

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