Hi all, and welcome September! On the morning of the first day of the month, I was greeted by a red squirrel foraging for seeds and hopping from tree to tree in a dark foliage covered woodland path. In that snapshot it felt as if autumn just sort of gently peeked around the curtain while waiting their turn for their grand entrance to enter the stage. That said the sun, undeterred by perfect autumn scenes, is making it decidedly summery here today and it will be for a bit longer still, so a good time to catch you up on my late summer making and wanderings.
I like to go out and pay extra close attention to the changing of the seasons around this time of year. It’s positively still summer over here, but it’s definitely late summer. The behaviour of birds, pollinators and other wildlife is changing and while the foliage is still in green splendour the rowan berries and brambles are here as a reminder that it won’t be long before the first odd leaf will colour. I’ve been keeping an eye on my favourite oak tree to see when their first leaf becomes red (for the past years it has always been one of the first to start and always in the same area, before spreading through the rest of their crown). In any case it has not started yet, but I’m fully enjoying the anticipation of the change in the season.
Late summer is probably my favourite bit of summer, though admittingly the beginning has a lot to offer too since I’ve gotten more serious about balcony gardening. Yet, I find August hard to resist with the garden in it’s fullest growth, wild flowers everywhere, the heather starting to bloom, wild berries coming on and of course the promise of Autumn being around the bend. Especially in summers such as the one we have this year, it is easy to love late August. We’ve had a warm but not scorchingly hot summer and it’s been wet, unlike the past three years we are not battling desperate droughts and wildfires where I live. I cannot tell you how healing it’s been to walk through our meadows and forests, to look out of my window and not see everything wilted, burned and dead from sheer water and sun desperation. Turns out that when everything outside isn’t dying of the heat and keeping our apartment temperature below 30 degrees isn’t a permanent struggle I actually don’t think summer is all that bad… who knew?
Otherwise, this summer has been a bit odd. The country in which I live was hit by severe flooding early in the summer and the part of the country where I grew up and lived most of my life and where all of my family still lives was hit the worst. My family luckily was only minimally affected but seeing the devastation and places I know by heart under water took quite a bit out of me to fully process nonetheless. On the flip side earlier in August my partner and I got our second covid vaccine and we are now fully vaccinated, hurrah! Later in August I saw my parents and my brother and his family for the first time since the covid era started. Most of us are fully vaccinated but to be on the safe side with new varieties etc popping up we didn’t meet inside but met up in a nature reserve for a long walk. We ate apple pie from a bench overlooking wild flowers in the sunshine, played improvised basketball with my nephew and made sand art, I got to talk about tablet weaving to a nonplussed audience (what do you mean, weaving with cards???) and spotted squirrels while being pounded on by rain. Can truly recommend it (and hope this is soon possible for all of us!).
I’ve been working on various knitting projects over the past weeks. After I finished my first pair of plain socks I almost immediately cast on for another pair. A very different selection of colours, but otherwise I’m knitting it exactly the same as my blue pair. I can’t believe I only now find out how great socks are for summer projects!
I’ve worked a lot on my handspun Shawl. The photo is from earlier in the project, but it is almost done now. I’ll say more about it when I write my post about the shawl, but knitting with my own handspun has been a magical, spellbinding and rooting experience. It became a meditative project and I felt mindful of almost every stitch. I look forward to the colder autumn days so I can wrap myself in this shawl and truly test it’s warmth against the cold wind.
Finally, I’ve started another allover cardigan (surprise!). It was a snail pace start though as I had to redo the ribbing a couple of times, because I misread stuff, made mistakes or was unhappy about colour pairings. It took me the better part of a month to just get beyond the ribbing, so let’s pray to the colourwork fairies that the rest of the project goes smoother or I’ll still be knitting on this thing come next summer! I get to play with lots of different colours for this one, in the photo below you can see a selection of the colours (or as the cool kids say: hello from me and my colours).
I’ve still got hold of my embroidery itch so I’m still stitching away. I finished my wild flowers embroidery the other day and have started stitching on a new one. This one is of an owl fying in the night sky and I got the pattern from the same magazine (but a different issue) as the wild flower pattern. I’m a bit nervous as this one uses a lot of colour blending and layering which is new for me but it’s also great to stretch my embroidery skills a bit. I got a white fabric marker for this one, as my blue marker is decidedly useless on dark fabric. I’m bizarrely excited that I can now start using all my darker fabric leftovers for embroidery as well.
Just Keep Spinning…
While I’ve been knitting with my first handspun, my wheel and spindles have not been forgotten. I’ve been spinning some beautiful dark zwartbles fibre on both my wheel (blended with some other fibres) and on my spindles (using only the zwartbles) and am enjoying experimenting with that. I’m also still spinning away on the orange tweed blend that I started spinning on my spindles. I’ve been reflecting on my first year as a spinner and I look around and see my current projects in the work and look at my first shawl using my own handspun and my hear swells with joy, what a journey it has been!
Because it’s late summer, I’ve been been making sewing plans for autumn and dusted off my autumn inspiration board. I don’t always keep exactly to my plans (mostly because I plan the amount of stuff as if the autumn season lasts a year), but it always does give me some idea of direction. Additionally, I like looking back at old plans and inspo boards, see what inspired me at the time and what garments those plans resulted in. I’ve also followed down deeper the path of my new found weaving fascination which I might write about more in a dedicated post. In short you could say that if you need me I’m just here dreaming about and wrapping myself in my love for all the textile crafts.
Sunflowers, Apples and Pumpkins (and Worms Who Eat it All)
The stars of the late summer balcony garden are our sunflowers, tomatoes, bell peppers and my pumpkin. I sowed some late season green beans in July, which have since grown a bunch, flowered and are now growing new beans. At the start of August I also sowed some perennials, the idea is that they can form roots this year, and then flower next year. We’ll see in time whether I left it too late for them to grow enough before winter sets in (fingers crossed).
We’ve also been dealing with an infection to our apple tree. It’s an infection that is quite common, but if left untreated can kill the tree. It’s more common to see it spread in spring and autumn than in summer but we’ve had a very wet summer. It’s super sad to have this happen in any year but this is also the first year she is actually growing fruit. However surviving is definitely more important so we cut away all the affected branches (and disinfected all the tools we used for it) and now we’re keeping our fingers and toes crossed that we got rid of the disease entirely and that it won’t come back in any of the other branches. She now looks oddly bare, but also healthy so pray the garden gnomes and fairies will help our tree to stay that way and then she can regrow in spring.
Finally, I mentioned that we got a worm bin in late spring and talked about starting our vermicomposting adventure with our first compost worm colony. The start up process went well and is done now. So our compost worms take care of our green and brown waste, basically all the things you also throw in a normal compost bin sans worms. Because we have little previous experience with composting and particular vermicomposting it was a learning curve but there is not much to it (very hands off, as in, the worms do all the work) and it was such an amazing thing to see the process really start happening after a few weeks. It’s going to be interesting to see how they cope in the autumn and winter but so far we’re really glad we took the jump and added them to our balcony. If you are into gardening and composting and more in general living on this earth in a more sustainable way, vermicomposting is definitely something I’d recommend giving a go especially if you live small/have a small garden. We got a smallish mid size bin and they are very capable of dealing with our kitchen and garden waste. That said you will see and have to handle the worms occasionally so that is something to keep in mind if you are squeamish about that sort of thing.
That’s it for today, thanks for checking in with me! Hope September is kind to you and it brings you the comfort and magic you need.