Hello all and happy Autumn Equinox folks! After a warm start of September, which couldn’t be distinguished from the hot summer months before, we now truly seem to have entered the transition into the darker and colder months of the year. After weeks of no rain and months of barely any, we finally had a couple of days with sustained rainfall. It was amazing! When the first showers started in the middle of the night I woke and stayed up with the rain for a while. When I went back to bed I half joked to my more-asleep-than-awake partner that “the myth is real after all”. I say -half- joked, cause it’s been a really hard summer and spring and even our winter before was dry. Anyway, since then some of our parched landscape has been healing somewhat. The fields of grass are patchy and thin but overall greener than I’ve seen them in a long time. I can’t even describe what it’s like to after months of cycling past dry, dead and scorched fields to now see some green return. For many areas future recovery remains uncertain, and our state of draught isn’t over with a few days of rain, but there is definitely a sense of relief here.
I don’t think I’m the only one feeling some sense of relief over it. During our last couple of visits to the forest, it was livelier than I’ve seen it in months, a stark break from the eerie silence it had been clouded in for most of the summer. We saw and heard lots of birds and forest critters such as a squirrel up high in a pine tree and voles foraging in the undergrowth between fallen logs and brown leaves. We also heard stubborn woodpeckers that made lots of sound, but only rarely showed themselves and we saw a nuthatch whacking a beech nut against a tree. We observed and heard many songbirds including numerous European red robins. It was so, so good to see the woods like this, after it’s been so ghostly quiet for most of the summer months. I’m aware that many of the animals will face a difficult autumn and winter with berries and nuts being out too early, too small and too few because of the draught and heat. Let’s hope some of autumn’s harvest will be a bit later and better now that we’ve had some rain!
Despite the disordered seasonal patterns, I’m trying to find some joy in my surroundings now that we’ve had some rain and seem to have returned to a slightly more diverse weather. I took my time rummaging a bit between the pine cones, pretty leaves and the few, premature and thus unripe, acorns. I foraged a few autumnal bits and pieces to put up in our home. I only took a bit and tried to go for overly unripe stuff since I don’t want to make it even harder for the wildlife. I also took some pine cones taking care to see if there were seeds in them, should some fall out I’ll be sure to bring them back to the forest. Now that we’ve had some rain I’ve been keeping my eyes out for the first toadstools popping up! There hasn’t been much yet, and with the extreme draught of the past months it could be a bad year for them in general, but it’s been nice going on a scavenger hunt for the first few and spotting the first (tiny) ones here and there. It’s been soothing to do this and to bring some seasonal bits and things that remind me of nature into our home. I’ve also been switching around some of the other decorations in our house: bringing the autumnal art, drawings and embroideries a little more to the forefront and putting the summery ones a bit more to the background. I’ve not gone full on autumn with it yet but I made a start. This summer has been so long, so dry and so warm and by the end of it I was more than completely over it so I’m feeling more ready and eager to embrace the transitional season and autumn than I usually am. I know that late summer weather is possible in September and even October, especially in these times, but it feels good and soothing to my soul to prepare and switch some things around now. My soul honestly feels a bit broken after the past few months by what was and is going on with the weather and climate, but also…you know…everything else, so it is nice to find some comfort in small things.
I haven’t felt very creative over the summer and at times I struggle to remember what I even spend my time doing as my memory mostly seems infused with heat coping, news bits and watering plants. With the arrival of September my creativity seems to slowly stir from its slumber and I found myself thinking about making and creative pursuits more, planning things and finally putting in some more work and progress into long lingering projects. I’ve also noticed that over the summer I felt less inclined to share my work and what I’m up to and feel that the sharing I did came more out of a “going through the motions” box than out of an innate want or need to reach out. I hope now that I feel some creative energy return some of enthusiasm to talk about it will also return.
The projects I’m working on right now are all leftovers from summer. Like I said my creative and general energy in summer felt stagnant and that is reflected in the amount of knitting I did. I’m hoping now with some of it returning I can race these projects to the finish line and start with something new as I feel I could use a clean slate and fresh start to head into the colder months. My big work in progress is the yoke cardigan I’m knitting on. I’m at the point where I finished both sleeves and I’m very close to having the body up to the yoke and can start the fun colourwork bit. This is perfect as summer honestly made me a bit bored with this project so the yoke will be a welcome change.
The only thing I finished over the summer is a plain pair of sock with colours that reminds me of cottage gardens. I’ve since started and been working on another plain self striping socks, in soft muted earthy colours that I feel suit these September days, especially with the tweedy flecks mixed in. In truth I’ve been working on this pair for a big part of the summer months. This is my “game night” project, which I work on pretty much solely on days these occur. The games we play are the analog, where you have to roll dices or do other actions regularly, not to mention do a lot of talking usually and I needed a mindless project that I can easily pick up and put aside while doing those things and plain socks fit in there nicely. So it goes slower than other projects but having a project that is specifically for certain activities has its charms as well.
Spinning on my spindles seems to be the one thing I have been doing consistently this summer and as a result I got a big project to the finishing line. At the end of August I finished spinning my orange tweed singles on my spindles and plied them in the days after on my wheel. This was my mammoth spindle spinning project for a long time and it feels a bit odd to be done with it, but I guess most of my readers are no strangers to the feeling of a big emptiness layered with quiet satisfaction at completing a project that was a companion for a long time. I spun the singles on my spindle and plied them on my wheel. This fibre is a mix of Merino wool and bamboo and it is unlike anything I worked with before. Spinning the singles on my spindle was pretty straightforward but when plying the strands almost melted together. By sight you can hardly distinguish it from a thicker single (though it feels a lot stronger than a single). With the spindle project finished (and me not yet having started a new one) and the return of the colder weather I’ve also returned to my wheel spinning projects these past few days and I’m thankful for that.
Weaving has been the most exciting thing of the summer and I have been weaving on the floor loom as much as temperature permitted – which was a lot less than I had wanted to- but the sentiment counts. Weaving is a very physical craft and I’ve been enjoying learning, getting to grips with my new tools and simply spending time with the loom. So far I feel that getting a floor loom was absolutely the right choice for me and my weaving. Anyway, I’ll spend a long time talking about my first floor loom project and all the feelings I’m feeling about it in its own designated post (soon-ish) but I wanted to show you a glimpse of what I’ve been working on. Eeeei!
Quilting and Embroidery
Quilting mostly gets a mention here so I can tell you that since making the quilt sandwich absolutely ~no progress~ on this is made. I kind of predicted at the start of the summer, that if it was going to be a warm one (which it very much was), it would be hard to do much work on the quilt. At some point I simply put the project in a drawer and decided to let it sit there until the colder weather was upon us. So hopefully September continues down the current line so I can pull this project out and finish it.
My embroidery has been slow since the winter when I started this hoop and it has continued down this line over the summer. I honestly mostly have spend that time avoiding stitching on it. I’m not sure what it is – wrong project choice seems doubtful as a garden scene feels like as good a fit as it could have been but at this point I don’t discount it. I have in fact been changing some things on the fly to the pattern that I ended up not liking so that could be it. However I could also just not match very well with this craft at the moment and that is fine. Because of that had I decided to just try and finish this project now and then take a break from the craft. Of course, ironically, since I decided that at the start of this month I have been stitching on it a lot (and in the process finally have some tangible progress). I’m still planning on giving myself a break after this hoop though, but it’s nice that I’m giving finishing this garden scene a go before the earth and most gardens will go back in hibernation mode. I think it will be a lot harder to gather up enough motivation to make me finish it when autumn really gets going.
End of Summer Garden and the Arrival of Bulbs
Talking about the garden in the past few months is more in terms of survival than of thriving. With heatwave upon heatwave, no rain, record sun amount, temperature records and no break in the form of a few cloudy less-hot days, conditions where always going to be challenging but they got amplified on our balcony cause we only garden in containers and we have a south facing balcony driving already hot temperatures even further. Even with watering (a lot, as was necessary), most things just barely scraped by and survived. The only plants that did well are the Verbena Bonariensis and Rosemary, plants that are made for these conditions. That said we grow a lot of plants that do well in these conditions (as we know what we are dealing with) but even those were definitely more busy with surviving than with thriving. So it goes, I guess if the temperatures in summer continue this drastic upward movement then I imagine we have to select even more specialised plants for this weather like cacti and succulents.
On another, much more happier and exciting note, my spring bulbs arrived this month. I did a big order at an organic bulb farm in the summer and it has been a source of hope and a thing to look forward to during this tough summer. The service of this place was excellent and I’m already super excited for the upcoming spring garden. We got a nice variety of bulbs; pretty much all are woodland or meadow bulbs that are good for bees and they are a mix of native and introduced bulbs. I got mostly wild varieties and a couple of cultivars that stay close to the wild original as those simply are my favourite type of plants and I like those flowers best. I did however also get a mix of two tulip varieties; the long stemmed two colour kind. They are single flowers, but one has a frilly flower top as if it originally wanted to be a tutu for a ballerina but diverted to being a flower at the very last minute. I got them purely for fun and to be reminded of light-hearted joy when they appear next spring. I jokingly call them my decadent plant choices as they are such a stark difference with my other plant choices and I cannot wait to see how weird a combination they make but also to greet them all when they appear next spring. Most of them still need to be planted but I got two plant types that needed to be in the soil directly upon arrival lest they would dry out (hilarious with the type of weather we had when it arrived). They have been planted already and put in a shady spot.
As if to greet the new generation of bulbs, I got a surprise past weekend when I spotted one of my old bulbs, still in the pot from the past spring appearing above ground. I think it is a crocus but I’m not sure yet. It didn’t flower in spring so it apparently decided to take a chance now in autumn. I don’t know how often this happens, but because we are on a balcony it has a good chance in succeeding. It’s funny and weird but I think this end of summer needs more of that so I’m just letting the bulb go at it. We also have a rogue dandelion growing and flowering on the balcony. I’m surprised that it took them this long to find us, as I had been low key hoping for some in spring (they flower in spring and autumn when the day and night are roughly the same length). Ha, I can imagine not all will understand this but dandelions are amazing flowers, incredible for pollinators and have medicinal and nutritious value as well as being a good dye plant and we love them at the Treehouse. Apart from the bulbs I have also sown some autumn lettuce at the end of the summer. It’s the first time I’m growing lettuce (our summer on the balcony is simply too hot for them) but I wanted to give it a shot this autumn and see how far into the cold season we can take them on our balcony. If they’ll do well then I’ll be sure to give it another go in early spring next year.
Much of my end of summer and early autumn is wrapping up old projects and weaving in metaphorical ends of projects. I’m however anticipating starting new things and the fresh start that I think I need. I don’t have many concrete plans yet but for now dreaming about possibilities is a nice way of filling the time while I do the finishing touches on current projects. I hope you enjoyed this end of summer and early autumn ramble. Hope you are well and that your neck of the woods is lush and peaceful. See you next time!