Sunday, September 27, 2009

spring ...

... means summer is coming. It's still chilly here but the flowers are signs that spring has sprung. My children have mostly stopped coughing and we can leave our heavy jackets at home. We are still wearing wool though, my favourite fibre. Slowly peeling back the layers.

Just like my home. One small step at a time time as I go through my many possessions removing the clutter until (hopefully) all that remains are those most important treasures. And as I go, I am confronted with dilemma's as many things contain a story. And I am forced to consider what is important.

Leaving behind an artistic lifestyle to pursue my passion for working with people as a counsellor. And yet I will continue to create which is as essential as breathing really. So I am busy creating small corners for myself. A pile of handknitted and crocheted blankets. A vintage suitcase filled with old embroidered linens. A steel cabinet with all manner of stitchy things. My thrifted woollen blankets await new lives as clothes and homewares. Handmade baskets full of woollen and cotton yarn. A new project underway with new love crochet.

And our daily possessions. One wardrobe at a time. One drawer at a time. One bookshelf at a time. One box to the thrift shop. One to a friend with a baby on the way. A carload to my artistic sister Cleo. One for Trash Palace. Each step I feel lighter as I create space.

Hidden treasures are revealed and bring delight once more. Blessing others with preloved things. I've found the psychology of what I own to be the most interesting aspect of this whole decluttering and simplifying exercies. Why I own things in the first place and why I want to keep them or remove them for instance.

I also have in mind new spaces I want to create. A small shelf of my most used crafting stuff in the lounge to replace the oversized bookshelf that sits there. A desk with my laptop, sewing machine, diary and bible in my bedroom. A cabinet and shelves in the garage with my crafting materials, visual art diaries and supplies. And little else. We may even be able to park a car in there one day.

My dream ... a larger home with a small conservatory-like studio space for myself. A second living room for my children and their friends. An outdoor entertaining space. A family home that can accomodate others.

It's these ideas which motivate me and help me to push past the daily pain I suffer with a injured back. And I will get there one small step at a time.

Kapiti Island at dusk.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

crochet ... my new love.

When I was little, my grandmother, 'Mama' as we knew her sat down every evening and created textiles for our home. I remember her always crocheting bedspreads, edges on cloths, etc. And now I have the bug. So happy to have a new little something to fiddle around with.

And here are some images and websites I've found recently.

Anthropologie has some beautiful throws patched together from diverse knitted and crocheted bits and pieces.

Sophie Digard also has some beautiful scarves and jewellery. At Google, you can scroll down to Image Results for Sophie Digard. She's also selling her wares through Selvedge, the all time winner of textile magazines.
Try sitting here mid-autumn, rugged up, surrounded by fresh washed vintage thrifted blankets. Its soooo good. My stack of handknitted and crochet blankets. I will post foto"s

"there's no place like home..."

I saw the Wizard of Oz when I was little. I was so scared. But there's that one little scene where Dorothy is holding Toto and saying "there's no place like home, there's no place like home", those words have resounded in my life.

I am in the process of slowly going through our possessions. Fourteen years of accumulated clutter: as an multi-media textile artist, a lover of vintage, a can't-walk-past-an-op-shop and a survivor of lean times, I am surrounded by things. Things that at one time or another have meant something to me.

I have made a few life decisions recently. One, to homeschool my almost high school aged boy next year. Two, to return to counselling practice and within the next five years create my own private practice in partnership with another friend possibly. Three, to find a bigger home so we can have more people in our home and lives, plus accomodate all our diverse needs as a family.

Add to this a 9 month old baby, seven year old boy, tween-ager of 12 years, a brother-in-law staying and my lovely busy husband, with our usual commitments and daily doings, and life is rather full-on at the moment.

I am having to discern what is important, what is do-able and what is idealistic.

Being an artist has been a lovely diversion these past few years but in my heart I am happier when I am working with people. My artworks feel rather mediocre but maybe I will return in later years and have a bit more nouse then . I will continue to make things for my own pleasure but being a full-time artist and developing my work will take many years and the cost and sacrifice my family would have to pay just doesn't add up. I feel it would take a few more years to develop to a place that I would even begin to get comfortable with. As a counsellor I'm ready to roll out once the right position comes along, and that's a no-brainer really.

Back to decluttering: Its not an easy job. I have been waiting for the right conditions, more energy, less pain, a tidier house (go figure), summer weather, holidays, motivation, help, a sign from God even but alas none of these things ever line up. So its just time to suck it up and get on with it.

I am blessed to have a new friend in my life. We have embarked upon a journey that is turning into quite an adventure. We each, when we can, pick an area in our own respective homes of a size that is personally manageable, take photos (she's been very good, I keep meaning too) and then toodle around decluttering, sorting, cleaning until some measure of order has been created or restored in that small corner. We have no timetable and yet we are starting to pick up momentum. She is now doing a few little areas a day. I just squeeze in as much as I can in my spare time when my back and kids allows.

For me this has involved the very slow process of sorting and tidying the babys cupboard, the two toy boxes under my sons bed, a bit of the desk next to my bed, the overflowing laundry, the washing of my collection of knitted and crocheted blankets, giving away some books and so forth.

We email each other updates, I have been getting several from her daily. She's a cracker. There is something very affirming and inspiring in sending each other emails that list all the little jobs we've done, the decisions behind why we keep some things and why we can let them go, and see picutures of before and after.

I keep telling myself that when we are faithful with a little, then we are able to be faithful with a lot. So I will be diligent. Its not too hard. I just don't have the time or space to accomodate some of my history when my future is trying to come into my life. And there are no more excuses. No knight on a white horse gonna ride in and rescue me from myself. My mum is coming in a month's time but that time will be better spent planning our futures with her (she's a make it happen girl).

I still have a few mountains to climb before I am out of the woods. I have decided to have a yard sale with some stuff, donate the left overs and sell the best via Trade Me, New Zealand's online buy and sell website. All proceeds to help me pay for my homeschool curriculum next year .

All this while juggling a now crawling baby and maintaining my usual support of my family. I am also crafting for an upcoming market.

It also means saying 'no' to other things at the moment because this is really important to me, I can see it will set me free and create more physical and mental mind space, as well as refine my possessions to manageable. I can't wait to have a bigger home one day soon.

A little package came for me today. I will post a photo of it later. Thank you Pat from the USA for my little crochet pot holder. I love crochet.

I am excited about the future. Once I sense my way forward, I jump. Yay.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

crown lynn and other thrift store finds ...

Secondhand shops make my heart zing like no shopping mall ever will. Old things with a story have appeal in ways I cannot communicate. When I was a child, my grandmother and I would scour the thrift stores in our small town during our once a week trip to town. I was given money and allowed to buy whatever I desired. I had high heels, books and knic knacs on shelves my grandfather gave me in his workshop. The thrill of a fantastic find never fails to ... well, thrill!
An old tin box complete with worn patina and secret places. $3.
Three little compartments on top tray which lifts out.
A handful of old shell buttons fossicked from a container of old stuff. 50 cents.

Made in New Zealand.
My grandmother worked at the Crown Lynn china factory years ago. Crown Lynn was big during its time, it opened during the war to provide our country with china due to the shortage of imported goods. I grew up in a house full of Crown Lynn so when I see it, I'm filled with a nostalgia that binds me with memories of my wonderful mama. I have found quite a few pieces recently. Let me show you.

Children's nursery rhyme series, side plate and two cereal bowls, $1 each.

I think this bird cup is beautiful. Also $1.

My piece de resistance is this five piece FOUR place setting in perfect condition.
No chips, no fading. Its in mint condition and in all those Scandinavian colours
and art deco patterns that make it highly prized right now. $25!!!

Another amazing find - 35 Sheffield stainless steel bone handled knives and forks
including some fancy ones in the middle. $1 a piece. Mint condition.
A great bag, my favourite kind for free from my friend Alena.
FOUR vintage cane chairs at $5 each! That's four for $20.
I own six now. I love Trash Palace.


I was given a quick lesson in crochet recently. A crochet multicoloured blanket is called an afghan. They are my recent addictionn while thrifting. My mama used to crochet in the evenings in front of the tv. My grandad would snooze. I would make supper around 9pm during the school holidays. Boil the jug, make a pot of tea and arrange baking on a plate. We would watch The News, Close to Home, Its In The Bag, Frank Spencers 'Some Mothers Do Have 'Em', 'Are you being served?', 'Open All Hours' and Benny Hill. O, I forgot Coronation Street which was um, borrrrrrring. But it was worth it for supper and the baking.

Below are my latest collection. I do have more.
Detail of felted squares and some great handstitched joins. I am always thrilled with handwork.
But wait there's more. My friend Cleo is sooo clever. She pieced all these random handknitted wool scarves, squares and baby blankets together that she had. While visiting her last week she asked if I would like it. Would I??? Do birds fly?! I thinks its simply beautiful, so very much me and such a welcome bit of colour on my bed. It is heavy as. Rich complains he can't move and is a prisoner in bed, but I love love love it. I think it goes with my carpet. What do you think?
This is the bed from the other side. This thing is big and long. Like a scarf for my bed.
On a trip in May, I picked up this very heavily felted one from Savemart, the clothing recycling centre in a cold damp warehouse in Hamilton for $5. It's Knuckles floor blanket. Most of these are on my cold leather lounge seats this winter and they make it much more friendly.
A pile of blankets, nothing cost me more than a few dollars.
A trip to our local Savemart in Porirua last week had me snaffle up this green knitted
blanket for the princely sum of $8. Green is my favourite colour. Sigh.
Another green one with some ugly orange and brown, $8. It needs a bit of repair
but because the whole thing is completely random, I love it.
Facecloths I knitted and crochet from bamboo and cotton yarn.
More cotton crochet flannels for some new babies.
Five china vessels to turn into pin cushions for an upcoming craft market.
$1 each.

There are other things that I've found but this is a sample collection. I'll be posting the Crown Lynn set on TradeMe this week because its not really me. It is very pretty though.