Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Thank Goodness For A Blunt Spade

We've just waved goodbye to our friends Mel and Sheila who have spent 3 days with us, it was lovely to have you both to stay.  The boys went on futile expeditions to catch huge fish, alas, only littlies around.  Sheila and I relaxed and enjoyed the gentler craft arts.  Sheila is an amazing knitter who churns out an unbelievable amount of beautiful work.  We also had fun playing Trivial Pursuit that we dusted off after putting it away about 15 years ago.  We also christened the Boules set that Michelle kindly gave us for Christmas, good fun!
I dragged out my crochet that has been on the go on and off for about 5 years.  The pattern is called a Babette blanket, loads of crocheted squares with a gazillion colour changes and subsequent gazillion little tails of wool to weave in, and the squares vary in size so it gets fitted together like a jigsaw.  You are meant to just sew the squares together but I decided to crochet them together instead, my reasoning being twofold.  Firstly I went a bit crazy with choosing colours, it's a VERY multicoloured blankie, so I figured if the join between the square were visible and all the same colour it would draw all the colours together.  Secondly I love textured surfaces and I like the idea of a ridged seam between each square, so single crochet stitch does just that.  So you snuggle under this with the underside nice and smooth, but have loads of little ridges on the surface that you can fiddle with idly whilst watching tellie.  That is the plan anyway, and it is a while away yet as it only the size of a bathmat so far!
I'm still wading through curtain making at present, but having a tools down, instead I thought I'd use my machine for something a bit more interesting.  Our little granddaughters are coming down here for Easter so I thought I'd make them something pretty.  So, they now have a cushion each.  I never use pink in my own sewing so it was actually a wee bit challenging for my mind to have to use it!  I hope they like them.
I'm learning something new at my embroidery group.  This is called Portuguese Whitework.  Traditionally you stitch with white threads on white linen but we are a liberated group and we just chose whatever.  I went for beige.  We are just making something tiny, this will be a little Christmas tree decoration so I plan to put red fabric behind it to show through in the holes.  Although tiny, this piece is a real learning curve for me, never before have I done cutting and wrapping.  Basically you buy the most expensive piece of linen you can find, tack a square border around your work area, then satin stitch two sides of each corner, then get your meanest, sharpest little pair of scissors and cut the linen threads going in one direction between each corner and pull them out!  Then using your decorative thread, you wrap the remaining linen threads that are only going in one direction, in groups of six, to make little bars all the way along from corner to corner.  And the linen doesn't fall apart, amazing!  The middle section has five buttonhole eyelets and a circular design comprised entirely of  bullion knots that I am only halfway through.  It is amazing how long something this tiny is taking, and my brain is tired out afterwards with concentrating, but it's fun. 

Actually you would laugh if you had cast your eye into our group last week when we had to tack our square, which involved counting threads to get it placed correctly.  38 count linen is very very fine, those threads and holes are minute, and you should have seen us all, adorned with every visual aid you could imagine, from glasses, to giant magnifying glasses, to contraptions strapped to our head with pull down magnifiers and spotlights, just so we ageing beauties could see the holes in the linen!  :-)
That was my inside goings on, but I also undertook a big outside mission.  This is our big house water tank, that sits nestled into the hillside below our house.  So behind the tank the ground  is well over a metre above and being sandy is not very stable, so rather than it burying our tank, it needed stabilising.  I took over this task as I wanted to do it using only things lying around here that were worthless, it was my mission is frugality.  :-)  I had to do this halfway around the 25 metre perimeter of the tank - mega digging!! 
And here we have the result that took me about a week.  I used all the cutoff bits of the Hardieboard our house is cladded with, with bamboo stakes to support them.  It is entirely possible that we may see avalanches and collapses but I am happy to do repairs, and remind people not to walk near the edges of the terraces!
I even made some makeshift steps using some the wood from when Steve chainsawed up the trees that were felled to make room for our house.  I might say that Steve has muttered under his breath about this a bit, he is very possessive about all his wood, but he begrudgingly conceded that I did a reasonable job and the steps are stable, and I promised him that if we ever run out of wood (I don't THINK so!) then he can burn my steps, if it meant he wasn't to freeze to death.  :-)
My plan was to plant the first two levels with plants with good strong roots, to help stabilise the terracing.  So the lowest level is planted with comfrey, a leafy herb that I use a lot - it is a brilliant compost activator and make a great tea to feed plants.  You bung a great heap of leaves into a lidded container(lidded because it STINKS!!), fill it with water and leave if for some weeks to rot down.  Then you use the resulting tea diluted as a mineral tonic drink for other plants.  Comfrey has a strong root system, not one that spreads for miles and becomes invasive, just straight down pretty much.  Ideal for what I wanted, plus it will give me huge amounts of leaves for  composting, great.  The second tier is the middle sized agapanthus, many thanks to my dear friend Ruth for donating  some huge clumps of this that Steve chopped up into smaller chunks for me.  As we all know, agapanthus have good strong roots too, plus agapanthus is known as a good fire resistant/fire break plant.  I like growing plants for multiple uses, so these two please me.  The top terrace and the humped bed above that I am going to use for natives for screening and for bringing in the nectar feeding birds.  So things like bottlebrush, grevillea and kunzea.  I have loads of tiny natives in pots that I've bought over the last year, so I'm looking forward to fossicking through them to decide what to plant.
I used more logs at the side of the tank where all the pipes enter and exit, to have a visual reminder of where they are.  I also, later on, decided to scatter a line of small rocks along the few metres where the water pipe to our house is at ground level, like that because Steve has yet to run another line off from the t-piece under the green box -  that's for reticulating the orchard later on.  Picture this, I'd just finished the entire terrace with no dramas, with this area around the water pipe being the grand finale.  Steve came over to see what I'd done and as I chatted to him I turned to ram my spade into the ground so I didn't have to hold it.  But it didn't go in.  It hit something.  Oh.  Oops.  See that black pipe there, that's the pipe that takes water from the tank to our entire house.  And it now has a little cut in it, from the stupid woman with the spade.  You should have seen the look on Steve's face when I did it, incredulous he was.  :-)  Thankfully as I am merely a puny girl, the cut in the pipe has not actually broken through, tis a flesh wound only.  Those little rocks are my visual reminder not to do it again!
Anyway, all the hard slog digging work is done and I am now left with the pleasurable part of choosing and planting the natives to go around the top.  All my pot plants are crammed into a small fenced area so it's easy to water them and they are protected from kangaroos.  Over the next couple of days I'm looking forward to sorting through them all to find what I'm looking for.  I thought I'd show you a photo of this lovely plant that is destined for my back kitchen garden later on.  Isn't it pretty, it's pineapple sage, it smells divine and the birds love it.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Dy what interesting reading! You are working so hard in your little paradise! It will be a wonderful haven - what an achievement.