It’s been a while since I was here. I’ve been sprucing up the Wildcraft online shop this week. Here’s one of the new banners I put together for the home page.
It’s been a while since I was here. I’ve been sprucing up the Wildcraft online shop this week. Here’s one of the new banners I put together for the home page.
I’ve recently started bullet journalling to keep myself organised. It’s working very well so far and some time soon I may blog about the system I’m using. But today’s post is about the new journal cover that I made.
I’ve been using a home-made midori style traveller’s notebook, with several booklets and a diary inside it, for a couple of years now. I love the traveller’s notebook cover dearly, but for my bullet journalling I wanted to use A6 size booklets rather than the little Fieldnotes books I already had. So I decided to make a new leather cover that would fit the bigger booklets.
I should really show lots of in-progress photos, but I forgot to take them, so instead here’s a picture of the finished journal.
I used untanned leather for the cover itself. I’ve treated it with neatsfoot oil and a beeswax polish, but otherwise it’s as it came. I’m hoping that it’ll develop a natural darker brown patina over time
You can’t see them, but inside it has three elastics, to carry my three booklets. I’ve also added some of my own lampwork beads as decoration. This lentil-shaped bead is for the outer band.
And I’ve made some charm/book marker thingies with some more of my beads.
I love this new journal setup and the A6 booklets are working out really well. They’re just a bit wider than the Field Notes booklets, which makes it much easier to fit my weekly page layouts etc. onto one two-page spread.
If you want to try making your own journal cover, there’s a great video tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCYAnmQnn6w
I bought a new macro lens for my camera last week and since then I’ve been filling up my Flickr album with close-up pictures of many things.
If you’re interested in the technical side, I’ll put a bit of info on the photographic kit that I use at the end of this post. In the meantime, here are a few of those close-ups. Clicking on any of the photos will take you through to a larger version in my Flickr album.
For a while now for everything but my studio product photos (where I still use my old Nikon D90), my preferred camera is a Nikon 1 V1. The V1 is a mirrorless camera, so it’s much smaller and lighter than my D90. I have a few 1 series lenses, which fit directly onto the V1 body, but I also have an FT-1 adapter, which allows me to put any Nikon lens onto the V1.
Using an SLR lens on the V1 with the adapter produces a magnification effect. Don’t ask me how, it’s something to do with the V1 having a smaller sensor than the SLR bodies. I read all about it and then promptly forgot everything except for the bit about the 2.7x magnification. So using a 40mm macro lens with the FT-1 adapter gives the same effect as using a 108mm macro lens on my SLR, which is perfect for photographing tiny things like mosses, fungi, and glass beads.
I also have a 55-200mm telephoto zoom lens for my ‘big’ Nikon, and that absolutely shines on my V1 for bird and wildlife photography as the magnification effect means I get an effective maximum focal length of 540mm. That’s plenty enough for taking photos of puffins, as you can see below.
To cut a long story short, I absolutely love this combination of camera and lenses, especially now that I have the macro. Sadly, Nikon are no longer producing the 1 Series mirrorless cameras. They’re rumoured to be developing a new mirrorless camera system, which I suspect will have a different lens mount, so my lovely little 1 series camera will soon be obsolete. That said, the V1 does everything I want it to do at the moment, so for now that’s what I’m sticking with.
This weekend C and I visited a friend in the New Forest, who’s borrowing Murphy, our Ryeland ram, to use on her little flock. After we’d introduced Mr Murphy to his new ladies, my friend and I got chatting about what it’s like to live in the Forest. She was bemoaning the fact that people don’t seem to observe the natural world around them as much as those who’ve grown up in the woodland have learned to do. It was a particularly busy day in the Forest, since the weather was lovely and the autumn leaves were at their best. But as I watched people strolling by on a nearby bridleway, I couldn’t help but agree. Admittedly, many of the walkers in the New Forest this weekend probably just wanted a chance to let their kids and dogs run around, make some noise and use up some energy. But I thought it such a shame that in doing so, they were missing an opportunity to look closely and quietly at some of the finest sights that nature has to offer, right under their footsteps.
You don’t, however, have to travel anywhere to observe nature. We are, after all, part of nature ourselves, and even a half-hour or so of people-watching on a busy high street or city centre can be as interesting, if not more so than bird watching or looking for interesting plants on a country walk. We’re certainly easier to spot than some of the rarer species!
That said, if you want to look for other species, where better to start than right where you are now? If you’re indoors, do you have any house plants? If it’s daytime, have they turned their leaves to face the light? If it’s night time, perhaps they’ve folded away some flowers, they’ve certainly dropped their rate of photosynthesis (the mechanism by which plants turn light energy into food). Do they have bugs on their leaves? Is there perhaps a tiny earthworm in the plant pot? Do you think your plant is content to be indoors and is flourishing in its spot, or is it struggling? Try imagining what it must be like to be that plant, living in one spot all the time, responding as its surroundings change hour-by-hour.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been caring for one of our bantam chicks who broke its leg. We’re not yet sure if it’s a he or a she, but until we know otherwise we’ve assumed he’s a boy. He’s been living in a box in our living room while he heals, and I’ve been gradually introducing him to an outdoor pen, increasing the time he spends there daily. I check on him every couple of hours or so, but because I work in the studio for much of the day, the little bantam has spent some considerably time in his box without seeing us. Lately I’ve been wondering what it must be like for him, with only my cat for company. I know he twitters away about things, because sometimes I hear him at night. But it’s interesting to think of what it’s like for him, when he’s been settled quietly for a while, and then I come in and bustle him about, checking he has food and water, perhaps moving his legs for him to make sure he doesn’t seize up. Are those moments good ones for him, or does he prefer being nestled asleep? He certainly doesn’t seem unhappy, but then I’m not sure as he’d let me know if he were bored, he is a chicken with only a little brain after all. It’s been an interesting thought experiment imagine myself in his place for a while, and one that’s worth doing for any of our pets.
The ‘imagine you are a’ thought experiment is a great way of thinking about our natural environment too, one which helps us to develop some sensitivity about our surroundings. Just recently I’ve been thinking about what it must be like for the bees in my brother’s beehive, as they rush around preparing food from the last flowers of the season to last them the winter. Or what must it be like to be my lemon tree, which has been flourishing in a plant pot all summer, and I’ve now brought it indoors for frost protection. Or how about those big black house spiders, which scare us by running across the carpet, but are actually engaged in an epic mating tournament with males racing each other to be the first to find an unclaimed female (spoiler: even the males who win die shortly afterwards).
It’s all too easy to imagine the natural world as being something that’s ‘outside’ and separate from us. When we close the door on a dark chilly evening, it can feel comforting to have shut out the wild things, the creepy-crawlies, and in our case here on the farm, the screeching owls, the howling foxes and the persistent winter mud. But in reality, our homes are as much a part of ‘nature’ as anything else in the world. Our homes, made of brick, plaster, plastic and pressure-treated timber, aren’t ‘artificial’, they’re human. In a way we’re like the bees, who manufacture their highly-structured homes from beeswax, we simply use materials other than beeswax to make our living quarters. In short, we, and all the things that we make or synthesise, are very much natural things.
The skill we need to learn is to notice ourselves within nature. When we catch that spider (in my case safely under a glass) and throw him out of the door, we’re not throwing him ‘out’, we’re simply moving him away from us. We’re also probably scuppering his chances of finding a mate, but that’s another issue. When I shut out the noise of the screeching owls at night, is that how they feel when they hide in a tree hole in daytime away from human children playing? What kind of influence are we having on our natural companions? How would we feel if they did the same to us?
So my suggestion: on this scary Halloween night, try a thought experiment. Imagine that you’re a tree by a roadside, or a rosebush, or a tiny little weed in a pavement crack, and you’re watching all the trick-or-treaters go by, with their big trampling feet, their cackling and their oh-so-bright torches. Isn’t it they who are the scary ones?
Yesterday we had a beautiful sunny day in our little corner of Dorset, so I took myself off for a walk with my camera.
In the lane I spotted a few Brimstone Butterflies, who were fluttering around looking for ivy blossom to feed on. Ivy is one of the last wild plants of the year to bloom, so butterflies and bees tend to make the most of it when it’s in flower. The Brimstones are perfectly camouflaged amongst the shadows of the ivy leaves.
I took the chance to check on our little flock of rams en route. Our badger-face Shetland (named Mr Badger of course) is looking particularly well at the moment.
Although on closer inspection of this photo, I found he was rudely sticking out his tongue at me!
In the hedgrows there were some very pretty wild Bryony berries. They’re poisonous to humans, but I believe that birds can feed on them without a problem.
Back along the lane, my cat Maia was preoccupied with watching something in the hedge.
And on to the ewes’ field, where there were many Red Admiral Butterflies fluttering around the hedges and over the grass. I think they were feeding on the horse manure. Pretty as they are, Red Admirals do have some unsavoury food preferences…
Here too there were red berries in the hedges, but these were Rosehips which, when cooked into jam, are tasty and packed with Vitamin C. I think I’ll have to return here to collect some for jam-making.
The ewes were all present, safe and the right way up (always a good sign in a sheep!). Here’s Truffle, the Ryeland matriarch of the flock, with some of her gang.
And finally, on the way home, I inspected the hornet’s nest that’s being constructed on the roof of one of our workshops. Hornets are relatively uncommon in Britain, although we’ve usually had a nest somewhere on the farm each summer. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t at all aggressive towards people, unless of course they’re provoked. We prefer to work around their activities, as I feel they have as much right to be here as we do. The nest they’ve built this year is large and particularly beautiful.
I’ve enjoyed putting this post together, so I think I’ll make it the first of an occasional series. It’ll be good to share my finds around the seasons.
You don’t have to live in the countryside to see interesting wildlife. I suspect that species such as butterflies linger out and about for even longer in urban areas where it’s warmer. Have you seen anything interesting recently? Do share in the comments below.
Lots of things afoot here at Wildcraft HQ at the moment. First of all, I’m delighted with the way the new website’s working out. If you haven’t had a look yet, do take a peek at www.wildcraft.co.uk. It’s shiny and new, and I’m told that it’s much easier to navigate than the previous version.
Last week’s club shipment went smoothly. This month’s installment was BFL/silk in a colourway named ‘Honest Moons’, a subtle combination of pale grey and brown. Here’s the view in the Wildcraft Wool Room last week. As you can see, it was a pretty big dyelot this month!
We’re gearing up for lambing, with the first ewes expected to have their babies at the beginning of April. We have nine to lamb this year, but only three gimmers, all Ryelands – the others are all experienced Shetland mums. So I’m hoping it’ll go more smoothly than last year, when we had 6 first timers. I’ve been bringing all the pregnant ewes into the barn overnight, and as you can see from Piglet’s expression, they’re much enjoying the extra rations they’ve been getting!
We’re planning to set up Sheepcam again this year. Which will help us keep an eye on the ewes, but we’ll also make it available for you to see on the web. You can expect much fun over the next few weeks as you see all the lamby antics.
Ahem, we interrupt this lengthy interlude with a new blog post. Our apologies for the delay, Goldfishgirl has mostly been spinning, and knitting socks.
It was my first real lace project and I did encounter a few problems early on, mainly a dropped stitch that needed rescuing. But after that I ploughed on and was going well until I reached the border, at which point I made a major error in the pattern, but knitted another 15 rows before I discovered it. When I finally spotted what I’d done, I threw the thing into my WIP bag in disgust and didn’t touch it for several months.
I pulled it out again at the start of this year, took a good look at my notes (yes I did actually make notes), before deciding that I was still angry with it, so I stashed it away again.
I finally picked it up again a couple of weeks ago, and marvellously, the angry feelings I had towards the stupid messed up lace seemed to have melted. I mean look at this lovely yarn…
It’s Posh Yarn ‘Eva’, which is a lovely cashmere/silk laceweight. It’s impossible to stay angry forever at a yarn that lovely.
So a couple of weeks ago I started tinking back on the project. It was slow progress as I’d not used a lifeline (note to self, use more lifelines!) and un-knitting 15 rows of lace at the wide end of a shawl does take a while. But finally, on row 12, I realised what I’d done, it was a simple case of missing out two YO’s in one of the repeats. A little thing like that caused all the trouble!
So I fixed that problem, and finished the shawl. Simple as that. And here it is, finished, blocked and lovely. And now I want to make another one… I must be crazy!
I’ve been having a very crafty weekend so far, as I decided to rouse my old Ashford traditional wheel from his sleeping place in the loft today. This is the wheel that I first learned to spin on, way back when I was at school doing my GCSE’s. With the permission of my art teacher, I rescued him from the school art room, where he was abandoned and broken in a corner. I brought him home, where my mum and I fixed him up and then I taught myself to spin.
A few years later I bought my Majacraft Rose, at which point I stashed the Ashford in the loft as he was very cranky by comparison with the Rose who was all smooth and whizzy. So he’s been there for quite a while now, gathering dust and dozing.
But as I’m thinking of doing some spinning teaching in the future, I thought it would be a good idea to remind myself how to use a very basic wheel. It’s been years since I used a single treadle wheel, as both my Rose and my Kromski Sonata are double treadled.
So, after a dust-down, degrease and some light mending, I set the old Ashford into use again. And to my surprise, I love it! I don’t remember it being this pleasant to spin on before, either I was extra fussy back then, or my spinning/wheel tuning skills have improved so that it really is nicer to use. I didn’t expect to get anything out of the wheel without completely stripping it and reconditioning it, but lookie, I made yarn!
I think this wheel needs a name, and I’m considering calling him Oscar, because in truth he is a bit of a grouch. And frankly, at the moment he’s still quite grubby.
But now that I know he still works, I’m going to give him a good clean up and restoration job. I need to sort out the scotch tension arrangement, as when we originally fixed him I didn’t get the setup right, so it needs more hooks and a new peg to wind the brake band on. Then I’ll clean and sand down the woodwork, stain him a walnut colour (I’ve long wanted a dark wheel), and then give him a lovely beeswax polish to finish off.
I’m even thinking of treating him to a new flyer with jumbo bobbin and sliding hooks. The Ashford traditional parts are amongst the most reasonably priced of any wheel, so I feel I can indulge in some lovely new accessories for my old friend.
And to think I was considering selling him a few months ago! Not now, this old friend’s taught me so much, I’m keeping him forever 🙂
Now I know how Willow’s ear tag was broken, the culprit was caught on camera this afternoon…
In the meantime, his cousins were scraping the bottom of the barrel. Or at least they were trying, they’re not quite big enough to reach yet.
It’s hard to believe that it was only a month since Buffy’s lambs looked like this, and Cordelia and Willow’s little ones hadn’t even arrived yet.
Oh yes, and the ewes have been shorn too!
In other, non-sheepy news, I’ve had a manic month so far, with a large Wildcraft club shipment and big fibre/spindle update going out within a week of each other. I’m amazed I still want to look at wool after all that dyeing, but I do. I have (hopefully) a week of relative calm after all the mad dyeing, spindle polishing and parcel packing, so I’m hoping to get some more spinning done. Maybe I’ll get that laceweight merino that I’ve been working on for ages off my wheel, finally. It’s going to become an Aeolian shawl one day…
I did finish knitting my recycled yarn cardigan last week. No modelled photos to show yet, but I do have a pretty picture of the resin button I’ve put on it.
I’ll post more photos of the whole cardigan soon.
We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website.
You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in settings.
You can adjust all of your cookie settings by navigating the tabs on the left hand side.
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.
Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!