Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Home Foraging

This weekend it looked like the field and woodland fairies had visited my kitchen.
The calendula has started flowering its head off again and I find so many uses for this flower. It is wonderful for skin healing is the basis for many of my salves and soaps.
A friend visited and swapped some magnificent field mushrooms for some kombucha SCOBY and milk keffir grains.
I gently dug some more solomon seal roots/rhizome for another salve I am making for ligament, tendon and cartilage. 
I found some lush plantain, also good for skin salves.

And I am still collecting pocketfuls of delicious cape gooseberries.
Lots of the simple things that make me feel abundant.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wild Wool and Silks - Yarn Tour Part IV

You could be forgiven for mistaking this as a knitting blog but it does become a bit of a past time round here in the winter. So we bid Hobart a fond farewell and climbed back on the bus and travelled an hour north of Hobart along the Midlands Hwy to historic Oatlands, home of the (still working) flour mill (recently restored).

Oatlands is very much like Ross and remains mostly untouched by modern paraphernalia, maintaining it's original sandstone and clipped hedges streetscape. As you can see, our beautiful mild winters day morphed into an equally mild and cloudless sky afternoon. The day was picture perfect.

Opening especially for us was the "Lucky Ewe" shop, and again, a shop quite different to the previous shops at Ross and Hobart. 

Though it is probably smaller than my lounge room, it certainly is Aladdin's cave for yarn lovers, especially weavers, spinners, dyers and felters. Above is a selection of yarn dyes.

Colourful roving and hand spun. 
(and beautiful ancient floor boards)

Gorgeous silks among the woollier yarns.

I bought this silk mix for my mother. Rich vibrant golden colours.

and these sea greens for me! 

But what I was most excited to see was the "wild yarns". Hand spun merino with possum and wallaby fur, bound together with a fine silk thread. So soft and warm.
This is knitting up beautifully into a cowl for Craig when he is on the bike.
(The beautiful stitch markers were a thank you gift from one of the ladies on the bus. So beautiful)

And a hank of Jenmark Alpaca, a local alpaca fleece yarn grown just north of Hobart.

So soft and luxurious. I haven't got a project in mind yet but I just had to have it.

And more unique Tasmanian knitting needles from Tasmanian Forest Beads, made from Tas oak with Huon pine, myrtle and eucalypt burl. The larger ones look like horizontal scrub knobs.
Plenty of great gifts for knitters here!
Again we would like to thank Rowena for specially opening and for the goodies she gave us for our gift bags too. Such a unique little shop and if you can't get to Tasmania to visit it then check out her facebook page here or her site here

The tour was deemed great fun and we are planning to do another in autumn next year. This time we will travel the north west way probably late April early May. Vogue Knitting tours, eat your heart out!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Stash Cupboard Hobart - Yarn Tour Part III

Seriously, the name says it all!
(And PS check out that gorgeous original pressed tin ceiling of the street awning!)
We hit the Stash Cupboard in Hobart with full force. Thank you ladies for staying open and looking after such a crazy-for-yarn hoard.

I know y'all probably got a big ole yarn shop where you come from but we were just a pack of silly giggly campers when we walked in. I really thought I was prepared mentally with my projects and what yarn I was looking for but I was truly overwhelmed and just like a hunting hound dog I had to circle that whole place twice giving it a good sniff before I could settle in for some specific choices. Apparently I wasn't the only one. "Overwhelmed" was a phrase repeated by many describing their first foray into the shop.
Yarn was set out in fibre types and the white fixturing made the colours pop! Plenty of knitted display garments and quirky, energetic displays.

There is a space for social knitting and also a computer so you can look up Ravelry and even a print to print your patterns! They regularly have guest designers and knitting classes too.
Over by the door next to the register is a big yarn winder set up so you can convert your hanks/skeins easily to ball before you go home.
Seriously, yum,yum,yum. Oh and the pattern book range. 
I had just enough time for a comfort stop and a sandwich before it was back on the bus.
Thank you to Penni from the Stash Cupboard for our extra give aways and lucky dip fun.
It was here that we left our box of donated knits for the Women's Shelter too. 
The Stash Cupboard is right in the middle of Hobart at 159 Liverpool St and they have a great facebook page too.
It's 2pm and time to get back on that bus.....

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wool Centre at Ross- Yarn Tour Part II

Our first stop was historic Ross on the Midlands Hwy about an hour south of Launceston. Ross remains mostly untouched and unchanged visually from it's convict times and is so steeped in Tasmanian history that I'll revisit that subject another time but for now we'll visit the wool centre.
By the way, I think Ross has THE cleanest and most pleasant public toilets in the whole of Tasmania and makes an ideal stop for morning tea. It was an idyllic mild winters day, crystal blue skies, no wind and warm sun shining down. We set up a quick tea and coffee station on a nearby bench and served ANZAC biscuits and an Apple Spice Cake.

Directly across the road is the wool centre, perfect!
It is a retail showcase for woollen garments and knitting accessories but it is also houses a fabulous "museum" and historical display of the sheep industry in Tasmania.

You could spend at least an hour looking at the displays alone but unfortunately we only have half an hour and it's back on the bus so I arranged for a talk to the ladies about 

White Gum Wool

You can read the full story here about the ethically raised sheep in the Tasmanian midlands and you can also watch a story clip here from a Landline special here.
I contacted Nan Bray, the owner of the sheep farm, to see if she would speak to us at the centre but unfortunately she was right in the middle of shearing but we had a lovely lady from the centre give us a brief insight into the difference of White Gum Wool. Many of the techniques employed on the farm are in direct contrast to most properties and I would imagine there a few hairy-eared farmers having a bit of a scoff but I think Nan is a real hero. One of the really interesting things she does is manage pasture for greater diversity of food selection and she allows the lambs to self wean and stay within their family groups for five years. Her philosophy is that though genetics are certainly important, just as, or if not more importantly, is the way in which sheep are raised. You get back what you put in. Do watch the video link, it's a great story.

The ladies had a great time and most bought something from the White Gum Wool range. I bought a ball of the sock wool to try and look forward to working with it. They will become a pair of socks for Craig.
Don't you just love these needles? These are from Art Viva and are Tasmanian made, you may recall from a recent post that I tried these out at the Campbell Town show this year and bought a couple of pairs. I really like the point and angle on them. Here is the link for Art Viva if you would like to see more.

That's it, time's up!
Back on the bus for a bit more mystery knitting and on to our next stop in Hobart!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Knitting Tour- All Aboard (Part I)

So somebody in passing said they would like to visit the wool shop in Hobart and somebody else agreed...the "do-er" in me couldn't help but make that happen and I'm so glad I did. It was relatively easy and the rewards were great. We visited unique stores with a diverse range of yarns but more importantly we shared a mutual passion and made friends with 30 women and had some very big fun and excited some small businesses.

So I hired a bus and it cost everyone $30 for the day. I packed a mystery knit/crochet for everyone and organised some prizes and lucky tickets. Another member of the group called for donated knitted items to be collected in Hobart for the women's shelter. 

I got payment prior to the trip to assure I could cover the bus costs.
I compiled a list of interesting stops and made up a rough schedule of arrival times and departure times.
A clip board with lists is your best friend.
I wound balls of cotton and included anonymous instructions for dish cloths in three different patterns and advised the travellers to bring their own 4mm needles or crochet hooks.
The little bags of mystery knits were stapled shut with a lucky ticket on the front.
The trip was not for profit so with the little bit of left over money I was able to offer the bus ticket price back in the first give away goodie bag and a $30 gift voucher for the Stash Cupboard in Hobart and another $30 voucher for the Luck Ewe shop in Oatlands.
Both shops also provided me with little goodies too that really added to the fun of the day.
It was a big day so I'll be sharing over the next few days.
This is something you could do in your area too perhaps so stay tuned as I reveal more during the week. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Knitting/Crochet Tour 2014 Tas Midlands

I'm currently organising a Knitting/Crochet Bus Tour.
Our focus theme is yarn and we plan to leave Launceston by 9am Saturday 6th September returning by 5pm. Our first stop will be the Wool Centre in Ross where we will also have a quick morning tea before a tour of the wool museum and a chat about White Gum wool grown in the midlands right here in Tassie.

On the journey people can either work on their own projects or participate in a mystery knit/crochet.
I also hope people will take the opportunity to have some one on one coaching with each other and learn techniques like; sewing up garments, i-cord binding, heel turning and different casting methods.
Our next stop will be Hobart for a drool at the Stash Cupboard and some lunch

Then back on the bus and returning via historic Oatlands to visit Lucky Ewe fibre specialists. I'm particularly keen to see the Tasmanian merino blends with possum fur and wallaby hair. They also have alpaca, silk and supplies for spinners too.

After all that we should be almost at saturation point and looking forward to a night of dreaming of what we will do with our stash.

It's a not for profit trip and we are doing it on a budget, so there will be a lucky "door" prize but nothing in the kitty for goodie bags I'm afraid. We will also have a charity box on board for knits for the women's shelter in Hobart. I've hired a coach and the cost is $30 per person. I'll provide morning tea (with a little help from my friend Cindy) but lunch is byo. There are only five seats left and if you would like to secure a spot message me straight away for details.

(There has been much excitement and I am already planning the next trip in autumn 2015, a tour of the north west Tas yarn shops)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fermented Drinks

The girls from Nourishing My Family gave a great talk last Monday and if you live locally they'll be doing it again. Details at the bottom of the post.
It was all about Kombucha, Milk Kefir and Water Kefir.

Above is the kombucha which is a fermentation of sweetened black tea by a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast, commonly called SCOBY, which is the rubbery mass in the right photo. The scoby floats on the tea and in about 10 days it has produced a lightly effervescent drink. There is much see-sawing about the scientifically proved evidence of health benefits but it has been a practice in many countries for decades with very strong anecdotal evidence. The resulting drink contains probiotics, multiple species of yeasts and bacteria and acetic acid, lactic acid and glucuronic acid. If your liver is overloaded and under stress the additional glucuronic acid binds with toxins allowing them to be excreted.

We taste tested kombucha that had been flavoured by different teas. We tried a vanilla and rose kombucha that was really quite remarkable in taste and would be a wonderful cool beverage to serve people. Other flavours include, peach, blackcurrant, green tea and more.
Like anything produced for consumption there are protocols to follow but the process is very simple. Do some research and maybe it could be for you. The scoby produces "babies" readily so if you put the word out you are bound to be able to obtain one for free and be sure to get a cup of the existing tea to go with it to. If mould occurs, throw the whole batch and scoby away and start again.

We also taste tested milk kefir and water kefir, a probiotic drink made from a fermentation using starter "grains" (because they look lumpy like grains) of yeasts and bacteria. Again, whether you use cows milk, coconut milk, water etc, the result is a slightly effervescent tangy drink. I really love the milk kefir straight but many people enjoy it in smoothies. There are a wide range of health benefits and again, the scoby grains multiply readily and if you ask around somebody will have some to give away. If you find yourself swamped, just refrigerate and put it into a state of retardation till you are ready to resume fermenting. Your chooks will LOVE any spare probiotic drink or scoby as well and it is good for them too.

It's a big subject so get out there and do some reading. There are plenty of sources on the net and I also recommend reading "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. For those lucky enough to be in the Launceston area, the girls are coming to do a FREE talk and taste at the next 
Living Better With Less
Thurs 28th August
3 Charles St south (parking in Howick St)
(If you could let me know you are coming for numbers that would be great)
There will be grains to give away, please bring a jar with a lid and there may also be kombucha scoby.

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