Not much to report on the sewing front this week. I’ve been feeling rather tired and my mood has been dipping again. Things have been unintentionally garden focused, which is no bad thing. On wednesday I took delivery of a little Lavender plant for the garden. It’s a variegated variety called Platinum Blonde and I’m not sure why I chose it because I’m not fan of variegated leaves on anything. I think I just wanted it to be different from the one we already have which was a wedding present from a friend four years ago. And purely by chance, the new one arrived on our wedding anniversary. How’s that for serendipity!

I don’t have much room for line drying here, so the washing hangs on a line down the length of the garden at an angle, which means the washing hangs partially over the planting. I’m thinking that once the Lavender plants have grown a bit bigger then the sheets might waft across the tops when it’s in flower and make the garden (and the sheets) smell lovely! By the way if you’re wondering why the four year old Lavender is still so small it’s because it’s been through a lot including severe neglect and a house move, but it’s getting there.

The other garden news this week is that we now have a parasol so I can sit outside without getting burned to a crisp. I had been looking at those sail things and trying to figure out how to anchor one to the walls, but then I discovered that half parasols were a thing. Perfect! Now I can sew and write blog posts in the garden.

I’m thinking some seat pads for the chairs might be one of my next sewing projects and perhaps a table cloth to pretty things up a bit. And some bedding plants for some colour are definitely required! The reason the border is so bare is because I wanted to give veg a chance when we first moved in but the shade and slugs made things virtually impossible so I’ve given up and have decided to fill it with some perennial herbs and a few favourite shrubby things.

I’ve also repurposed this bit of artwork of my daughter’s. The metal eye was part of a project from her set design degree and she’s happy for me to reincarnate it as a garden ornament. I will move it to the wall next to the back door eventually but there were already some nails in the wall where it is now so that’s where it will stay until I get my tool kit out.

How has your week been?

We bought our house back in 2018 and although we didn’t move in until October we were regularly peeking from the kerbside from the time of our first viewing in early summer right up until the move. During that whole time the tiny little bit of front garden was a mass of gorgeously sweet smelling, yellow Roses. On reflection I think the Roses may have been the reason I missed the fact that the windows could do with replacing and the garden wall is probably going to collapse in the next five years but hey ho. Roses though! Despite naming one of my daughters Rose, I have never actually grown any. I remember being a bit obsessed with Roses on fabric at around the time she was born and made her a cot quilt and patchwork cushion with some Kaffe Fassett Forget Me Not Rose, but it never occurred to me to plant a Rose! Probably just as well because we have moved three times since she was born, so unless it was potted it would have been left behind anyway.

My first instinct was to keep the Roses in the front garden. There were a couple in the back too but they had to come out so I could hang out the washing without it snagging on thorns. The two at the front of the house are still awaiting a decision on their fate. They are beautiful and largely self sufficient. Every year the other half hacks them right back with a view to us digging them out, we never get round to it and they grow back and flower so fiercely it’s like they’re trying to justify their right to stay. And I would be happy for them to stay if it wasn’t for the fact that the whole of the front needs a complete overhaul. Unfortunately I can’t see a way of getting on top of the weeds and clearing everything else without the Roses coming out or getting damaged if they stay in. I don’t use chemicals as a rule but this little strip of garden has been neglected for over a decade according to one neighbour so the weeds are well established and the ground compacted. I fear a dose of weed killer may be my only chance with this patch especially since I no longer have the strength or stamina for gardening that I once had.

It’s a job I don’t think I can put off much longer. Our house now has the scruffiest garden on the street and because it’s a mess people seem to think it’s okay to dump their crisp packets, coffee cups, face masks and so on in there. Last week someone decided it was the ideal place to offload a child’s scooter and skateboard so now they’re just sat out there because it feels wrong to get rid of them just in case the rightful owner is looking for them. It’s all a bit daunting and I cannot believe I used to manage a fairly large garden, with a thriving vegetable plot most years. Admittedly I was starting to find it a struggle towards the end which is why we opted for a house with only a small strip of garden at the front and back, but having no growing space at all would have been going a little too far and my mental health would not have thanked us for it.

So the front. What to do? Well whatever ‘we’ do it’s going to have to be me that does it because the other half is a bit rubbish at gardening. He’ll hack stuff down and take it to the green waste skip at the tip but for anything else I find he needs too much instruction and he has an obsession with using loppers for everything when a pair of secateurs would suffice. Best just to leave him inside watching Doctor Who while I play ‘avoid talking to the neighbours’ by crouching behind the wall. Does anyone else dread having to have a conversation with a neighbour or a passer by while they’re gardening? I’m sure this is the main reason why my front gardens have always looked more unkempt than my back gardens, every house I’ve ever lived in, no exception! I’m an unsociable sod, I know, but if they knew how much energy I have to spend interacting with them then I’m sure they’d leave me alone to use that energy on making my garden less of an eyesore. Honestly, talk to me while gardening and I will go in for a cup of tea to recover from the social interaction and never come back out again, well only after dark to sneakily tidy the tools away!

The only way I am ever going to get my frontage looking dapper is to devise a plan, stick to it and then hope nobody approaches me! So here’s my plan:

  • Clear the rubbish! This is not something I am comfortable with. There are discarded face masks, wipes and goodness knows what else in there. It’s a job for thick rubber gloves and maybe one of those litter picker pincer thingys.
  • Kill off the vegetation. Weed killer I’m afraid. I can’t get down on my hands and knees to tease out by hand and some of those weeds are well established perennials who think they own the place. I don’t have the patience to wait another year while they suffocate under a layer of plastic or old carpet.
  • Tidy up the edging stones. One or two have been completely removed but are still lying around. They just need putting back.
  • Remove dead vegetation (assuming the chemicals have worked!)
  • Level the soil and remove some if necessary.
  • Put down membrane and cover with stone chippings.
  • Pop a few low maintenance pots and planters on the stone chippings.
  • Stand back and say job done!
So we made a start!

I’m also toying with the idea of painting the wall. It is not the original wall and the brick used is an ugly orange sort of brick that is spalling all over the path so covering that up would instantly make things look better. But that would mean being out on the pavement while I painted! Almost certainly that would mean PEOPLE. Hmm. I’m going to have to think about that one carefully! Look! A Ladybird!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here. Schools have gone back to in person learning and with that comes a new routine that includes home Covid tests twice a week on top of lunch boxes and laundering uniform. It’s all starting to feel a bit relentless and I frequently imagine us all on a giant hamster wheel.

On a more positive note, we have had a few days of sunshine here and there. Mostly the cold crisp kind but yesterday I stepped outside to get the washing off the line and it felt warm! It prompted inspection of the ‘yarden’ and I spotted the purple sprouting broccoli starting to form heads and a clump of chives well up and probably ready for the occasional snipping for salads and omelettes.

I’m very aware that Spring is here but I’ve not formed a relationship with it this year. Sometimes I get quite absorbed in the energy of all that life bursting forth but this year I feel a little more subdued in my celebrations. Is this what a pandemic does to you after a year I wonder? I feel like I’ve lost all sense of looking forward so have been looking at ways I can cheer myself up. I’m not normally one for buying myself flowers but last week I had some Daffodils delivered with my supermarket delivery and it lifted the spirits of everyone in the house so I bought another bunch this week. I’m not sure of the variety but they are lovely. Perhaps someone can leave a comment and let me know?

I don’t have much news from the creative realm this week even though I have been quite busy with my hands. It’s been one of those weeks where I seem to have made a mess of nearly everything I’ve picked up. I did manage a pair of slippers for myself after frogging one or both feet at least once. Then I started another pair for my youngest daughter in the lovely yarn pictured below but only managed one foot before I messed up the second one. It’s a pattern any beginner should be able to manage but I struggle with elements of my working memory (always have) so this is about my limit for knitting patterns. Needless to say, I’ve made a lot of scarves over the years! People ask why I continue to knit when my memory issues are so limiting but I get so much satisfaction from simple repetitive knitting patterns that it’s something I like to keep going. I do go long periods not doing any knitting sometimes and inevitably I always end up having to teach myself the basics all over again. Youtube tutorials are wonderful for this. My daughter has just taught herself to crochet watching Youtubers and is already churning out the Granny Squares!

It seemed to turn into a ‘using up leftovers’ sort of weekend as I also started a cotton dishcloth. I’d seen a trick on the internet about weighing the yarn before you start so you can work out roughly when you’re halfway through the yarn and start decreasing at that point to avoid too much wastage. It’s a great idea in principle it’s just that it didn’t work for me and I ran short. No problem I thought, I’ll just finish one corner with a different colourway. It’s only a dish cloth after all. Well it wasn’t meant to be. I messed that up too and couldn’t work out how to rescue it so that didn’t work out either. This weekend’s crafting has resulted in one and a half pairs of slippers. Not quite what I had planned but that’s how it is.

I hope you had a less frustrating weekend my friends!