Category Archives: family

winter solstice raffle

It’s well into winter here in Glasgow and the shortest day of the year is upon us…

Grasses

The sun rose this morning at 8.44 and will have set by 4 and, even when it’s up, the sky is often heavy with rain, such a contrast to the warmth and light we’ve just been soaking up on a brief trip home to Melbourne! It was SO lovely to be among family and friends and a powerful reminder of how incredibly lucky we are to so be loved and supported, of how much we have in our lives… We said hello to our lovely wee house and the family enjoying living in it, walked our regular routes and some new ones, ate at our favourite places (yet to find any good Middle Eastern or Japanese restaurants here!) and soaked up the birdsong, the golden bright light and the smell of eucalypts.

Back here in Scotland, we are settling into our second winter here and, this time, embracing the slower rhythm of winter with a bit more knowledge of the long, dark months and how to get through them…  I do love the dark and cold but struggled a bit with just how long and dark it was last year! Friends say that exercise, vitamin D, good company, blankets and other warm woollies, candles and lights and just embracing the need to achieve less and sleep more all help to make winter more fun. I’ll let you know how I go and whether I turn into a hibernating bear as much as I did last year ; )

Today is my birthday and, after the year that we’ve all had, my birthday wish was for a little bit of peace and good news in the world. Instead, I was deeply saddened to wake up to news of more violence, this time in Germany and Turkey, knowing that both events have the potential to further fuel racial hatred. More and more, like so many others, I am finding myself reaching out, scrabbling, wishing I could do something, anything, to make a difference. I know what is happening in the world is so much bigger than me, than any of us, but I want to use the resources I have, humble though they are, to do something. So I am holding a small raffle in the hope of raising money for those who are far less fortunate than Scotto and I and most people we know.

How will it work? I’m offering up 3 pouches made from a very understated Harris Tweed but lined with bright, cheerful cotton, an unexpected burst of colour and joy when the zip is opened, something we all need when times are dark!

Pouch in oatmeal/ lichen Harris Tweed

Pouch in oatmeal/ lichen Harris Tweed

Pouch in oatmeal/ lichen Harris Tweed

I’ll draw three winners from a hat on December 28 and send them each a pouch as a post-festive/ end-of-year treat! To go into the draw to win one, I just ask that, in the spirit of humanity and kindness, you make a contribution to a humanitarian aid organisation- I’m suggesting Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres or Oxfam for the incredibly important work they are doing  with Syrian refugees but please let me know if there is another group that you know of who does good work! The raffle is open to all countries and there is no minimum donation but please give as much as you can afford. I’m not going to ask for proof of donation but instead will rely on honesty! All you need to do is leave a comment here or on my Instagram feed to let me know who you decided to donate to and you’ll be in the hat on Dec 28. Good luck and huge thanks for any support you can give!

full circle

A belated happy new year to you! I hope it holds good things for you and those around you…

Gosh, I’d hoped to get back to this space a bit earlier in the year but we’ve had a bit of a slow start! I had a lovely, lovely trip back to Australia for Christmas- there really is nothing like being with family and close friends at that time of year and it was so great to be able spend some time with my dad who’s been unwell- that was the main reason I headed home again so soon after my trip in September but, thankfully, he’s on the mend so thank you to all who have asked about him.

After our first Hogmanay, Scotto and I headed up to Glen Lyon, a weirwood-ish glen in the southern Highlands, for a few days… A tiny one-room cabin with a wood stove and not much else meant we spent most of the time sleeping, reading, knitting, walking the beautiful glen, watching films (including the incredible The salt of the earth) and just reconnecting and recharging. Heavenly!

Sheep and fold, Glen Lyon

Sheep and circular sheep fold, Glen Lyon

And then, for the past few weeks, I’ve been pushing myself to get started making for the shop but, while I really do enjoy cold weather, I have found the short days a bit of a struggle- my body just wants to sleep! But I’m back into it and next winter will no doubt be easier ; ) We’ve been blessed with some sunny, rain-free days recently, which makes going out hiking so much more appealing, and even had some snow last week, our first real snow since we arrived!

Tobogganing at the Botanics

Tobogganing at the Botanics

Snowy rosehips

Snowy rosehips

Robin in the maples

Robin in the maples

So what does the year hold? If the last year was all new beginnings- a new country and culture to explore, a new business to build and new friendships and community to foster- this year is all about consolidating! It’s time to focus on what, of all the new, is most important, energising, viable and interesting. I’m so grateful for the incredible opportunities that have been presented to me- and there have been many- and I’m excited by so many things that I’ve felt my attention and energy go in many different directions which, again, has been so lovely but I just haven’t been able to keep up and so ended the year feeling a bit overwhelmed! My thoughts have also been at home with family, my dad in particular, and so I need to learn how to keep both my and their needs in perspective. So consolidation is the word of the year!

So what does that mean on a practical level?

  • I’ll be continuing the Harris Tweed and stranded colourwork joy in the shop but will be adding some lovely new things that I’m currently working on- so stay tuned there! As part of that, I plan to make a trip out to the Hebrides and to spend some time on Skye in summer. And I’ve also been adding some skeins of yarn to my personal dye experiments and am very excited to introduce some botanically-dyed yarn to the shop very soon.
  • I’m just finalizing dates for spring knitting classes at fluph, Ginger Twist and Queen of Purls but I have some classes at Ginger Twist over the next two Sundays, including one on Portuguese knitting! At this stage, there are some places still available- you can find out more here.
  • There will be more botanical dyeing classes at Glasgow Botanics this year too! I’m just locking in some dates but hoping for early April and mid-June… And I’m really excited to be getting my hands dirty looking after the dye garden at the Botanics! I can’t wait to get my hands in the earth…
  • I’m also super keen to meet more producers of wool and yarn and am planning to attend some lovely woolly events this year. I’ll also be teaching or selling my wares at some, including Unravel Farnham and Joeli’s Kitchen Retreat in February, and Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March and have my fingers crossed for Woolfest and Shetland Wool Week too… There are also field trips to visit sheep planned with lovely yarn friends Jeni, Leona, Louise and Mel : )
  • Scotto and I are really keen to make more of the incredible landscape here and so planning some good longer walks for the coming months- perhaps even some munros! And, having put on a bit of a winter coat during the last month of hibernating, I’m in dire need of a spring health boost so am excited to collect cleansing herbs in spring and am also on the lookout for a good yoga class- any suggestions?
  • I’m really keen to find some more space for personal knitting… especially some layers that are so essential in Glasgow! Patterns currently at the top of my queue include Lohman (minus the shawl collar in Rowan Scottish Tweed), Outi’s beautiful mittens (in Jamieson and Smith Shetland Supreme) for Louise’s Nature’s Shades KAL and another Pomme de Pin fro my favourite Amy Christoffers (in Shetland Organics 4ply).

So that is the plan for the year! As always, I know things will change in their way but I really hope to finish the year feeling that bit more grounded and solid in what I’m doing and that bit more connected to the place where we are living. I’ll keep you posted. What about your plans for the year?!

(Incidentally, it’s exactly a year today since we left Australia and so there’ll be a few posts over the next few days, encapsulating our first year in Scotland… special moments and things I haven’t shared to date, mostly because of time but perhaps also because it sometimes takes tie to recognise the significance of a thing. I’m looking forward to revisiting the year and hope you enjoy seeing some more of it too!)

knits for cold weather- and why we’re going to need them

I finished this lovely, enormous scarf at least a year ago but I haven’t had many chances to wear it. Not only is it about 3m long and made up of dense cables but I used a super-light, core-blown 14ply alpaca yarn- and the combination makes it one very warm scarf, the kind you don’t often need here in Melbourne…

February Scarf

February Scarf

But that is all about to change… because Scotto and I are moving to Scotland!!! Eep!!! So exciting and, frankly, a bit terrifying too- it seems much more daunting to pack up my life and head out into the big world at 41 than when I was 18 or 23. But that is part of the reason we’re doing it. We want to strip away some of the things that hold us in order to try to flow with life as much as we can. Not that those things that hold us are bad; they are often precious and beautiful and together make up a lot of who we are.

But there is more. And I think that sometimes we need to push ourselves to remember that, especially after hard times, like the last few years for my family. On top of that, I didn’t expect to find myself without children and that’s been hard to come to terms with. I didn’t think I’d hear myself saying that there was anything lucky about it- but, yes, I am starting to see that we are lucky to be free to do this, to do so many things that would be much harder if we had those responsibilities. And we have the means to do it, to take the risk. We don’t have work or a place to move into or any friends over there… but we’re (mostly) ok with that.

So, at the end of January, we’ll head off. So much to organise and do between over the next 6-7 weeks (including building up a stock of colourwork cowls for an exciting project in Scotland-more on that soon!) and so many lovely folk to share time with. I hardly ever post photos of myself but here’s a few of the faces that I’m currently moving between on a daily basis:

Unsure

Unsure

Jumping out of my skin

Terrified-excited

Shy

Shy

But mostly happy and ready to move forward...

And ready to move forward.

Wish us luck, won’t you?

acheron

We spent a couple of nights up at the farm where my sister and her family live. They were away so, while it was a real shame to not have time with them, it was such a treat to have the place to ourselves for a few days together before Scotto heads to Sydney for 11 weeks of study…

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Acheron

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Eucalyptus

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River Redgum

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Acacia

dsc_2138Grasses and gum

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Reeds

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Acheron river

Sneaking in between two very hot weeks, we had beautiful weather… We spent most of the daytime down by the Acheron River, which was fresh, fast and super cold! And the nights were so clear that we slept outside on the trampoline and watched the stars wheel across the sky, so much brighter and closer than they are at home.

The birds, mostly cockatoos, had the same idea and were out enjoying the gorgeous days.

dsc_1776Cockatoo and clouds

dsc_2025Cockatoo

dsc_2027Cockatoo

I didn’t do much but wander about with my new (old) camera, getting a feel for it and looking for small treasures in a way I haven’t for ages.

dsc_2183Grasses

dsc_2214Grasses

dsc_2208Dock

dsc_1905Brave beetle

Among the leaves of some of the eucalypts, I spotted quite a few of these delicate nests… I’ve got no idea who uses them but they are strangely beautiful and reminded me of a small child’s shoe. Anyone know what they are?

dsc_1879Webbed nest

dsc_1755Gum shedding

We hung about with the animals: they have chooks…

dsc_1993Settling down to roost

… a couple of Highland cows…

dsc_1925Wonderful colours

… and Damara sheep, who completed transfixed me with their wild horns, their ability to moult (they don’t need to be shorn), the ingenious way they store fat in their tails and their wonderful, beautiful faces.

dsc_2217Wee coos!

dsc_2058Wild boy

dsc_2069Beautiful girl

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Beautiful colouring

dsc_2112Black beauty

dsc_2103Soft and hard

dsc_2061Moulting

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Fatty tail

Thanks so, so much, Hen and Tim, for a magical weekend. It was just what we needed.

iran: glass and ceramics

One of a series of photo-based posts documenting a trip that my mum and I recently took to Iran. My excitement at being in that beautiful country meant that I sometimes missed the details in our guides talks, so apologies for any incorrect info or mislabeling of photos! Also, I took my old Pentax K100d with me but was unable to get more memory for it so had to use a low-quality format- I hope that doesn’t stop you from seeing the beauty that I saw everywhere…

After flying into Tehran, we spent our first day wandering the streets surrounding our hotel, which encompassed the wonderful Abgineh Museum of glassware and ceramics.

Glass and ceramics museum, Tehran

Approaching the Abgineh glass and ceramics museum, Tehran

With little idea of what to expect of Iranian museums, we were astonished by the beautiful curation and display of the collection… the lower rooms housed objects, both ceremonial and everyday, from up to 3000BC to the Mongol invasion in the 11th century AD.

Glass amulets

Glass talismans, 4-6th century BC, northern Iran

Glass seals- or were they coins?

Glass stamps

Glass and gold necklace

Moulded glass and gold necklace, 4th century BC, Tehran area

Glass jug
Glass flask, 2-4th century AD, eastern Iran
Ceremonial vessel

Rhyton or ceremonial vessel, 1st millenium BC, Markil

Many objects showed an overwhelming sophistication of both functional and aesthetic design…

Beak-spouted tea-pot, 2nd century BC, Tehran area

Beak-spouted tea-pot, 2nd century BC, Tehran area

Cut-glass bowl, 3rd century AD, Gilan, northwest Iran

Cut-glass drinking vessel, 3rd century AD, Gilan, northwest Iran

Cut-glass bowl, 3rd century AD, Gilan, northwest Iran

Cut-glass drinking vessel, 3rd century AD, Gilan, northwest Iran

as well as great finesse in decoration.

Detail of glass vase, Uzbekistan?

Detail of glass vase, Uzbekistan

I particularly loved this four-sided glass display unit with its many little “rooms”! It housed hundreds of small glass objects from a variety of styles and periods.

Glassware display

Glassware display

Glassware display

Glassware display

And I was surprised at how familiar the shapes and motifs were…

Chevron glass bowl

Chevron glass bowl, possibly 3rd century AD

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Stippled glass bowl, possibly 3rd century AD

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Ridged glass bowl, possibly 3rd century AD

How sweet are these little perfume bottles?! They are only about 2cm tall!

Tiny perfume oil bottles

Tiny perfume oil bottles

Upstairs were diverse pieces from the 11th century onwards- some were beautifully simple and functional…

Blown glass bottle

Blown glass bottle

others were whimsical and fantastical….

Childs ceramic whistle

Child’s earthenware whistle

Painted ceramic vessel, unknown

Detail of ceramic vessel decorated with fascinating human/ bird figures

Tile

Cobalt star tile depicting animals, 13th century AD, Kashan

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Bowl with birds and figure

or dramatic, filled with symbols and meaning…

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Bowl with red edging pattern

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Bowl with arabesque decoration, Islamic period, Neyshabour

Earthenware bowl inscribed with blessings in Mandaic, 11-13th century AD, Shooshtar

Earthenware bowl inscribed with blessings in Mandaic, 11-13th century AD, Shooshtar

Bowl with Islamic calligraphy, 13th century AD, Neyshabour

Bowl with Islamic calligraphy, 13th century AD, Neyshabour

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Plate with calligraphy, 13th century AD, Neyshabour

Bowl with Islamic calligraphy, 13th century AD, Neyshabour

Bowl with Islamic calligraphy, 13th century AD, Neyshabour

But all were so incredibly beautiful that we knew this trip into Iran was going to be more than we could have anticipated! Back tomorrow with Iran’s food… or landscape… There’s so much to show you that I can’t decide what to post next!