Know your yarn. 

The beauty of being a small business is knowing EXACTLY where your materials come from. And that it REALLY is ethical and compassionate.

Sure, you can buy commercial, mass-produced fibre. But you’ll have no idea if it’s from factory farmed animals, has been chemically treated, or made using unethical trade/labour. But it’ll probably be cheap.

I like to know EVERYTHING about my yarn, so you can too. ❤️👍🏼 The fibres are meticulously hand-selected from small local farmers. (Some are right here at Hill Shadow!) My dyes are sourced from a small business based in outer Melbourne VIC, who supplies ethical, organic and fair trade products. All labour (washing, combing, spinning, dyeing) is done by ME. By hand. At my hearth, in the Yarra Ranges, VIC.

So, I’d like to introduce you to one of my business’ cashmere suppliers.

Everybody: George. George, this is everybody.

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Step into your destiny.

I hardly know where to begin this post!

I have just spent Mother’s Day weekend on the most amazing course at Abundant Healing where I spent time learning spirit healing and achieving my Reiki/Seichim Masters with 4 beautiful people who I now have a forever connection with.

The weekend was just so intense, I could not possibly do it justice in a single blog post, so I’m not even going to attempt it! But I may write further posts about it down the track, so watch this space!

I will today tell you a little bit about a certain aspect of it, as it relates to my new direction into activated yarns, which is originally why I went into the course; to learn how to channel universal energy into yarn.

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One of the initial exercises we did, was to enter into a guided meditation in order to find our spirit guide, who would help us on our journey of becoming a healer. During the meditation, I looked to my left to see a line drawing of a girl, who then became a pale girl dressed in white. She had long hair, and she was quick to tell me that she had no speech, but was overjoyed to see me, and that she had always been with me as we were sisters. She then motioned to me all the times through my life when she had been there, sending me this mile-a -minute set of flash backs to life moments in my childhood: “So that: That was me! Remember that?! THAT WAS ME TOO! And you know how you love that pearly colour – THAT’S MY COLOUR!!!” When the meditation ended I felt completely overwhelmed and emotional – HOW COULD SHE HAVE BEEN THERE ALL THAT TIME AND NEVER HAVE SHOWN ME? (That night I saw her again in my dream, and she gently explained that if she’d just APPEARED at the end of my bed looking like a pale version of Samara from the horror movie The Ring, I would’ve FREAKED OUT and shut down. She was absolutely right. Fair call. So the things she showed me was her way of letting me know she was around – NOW I know what to look for! ❤ )

Anyway, fast forward to the end of the weekend, I’m feeling so empowered and looking forward to using my new abilities, but not really sure how I’m going to go forward. I don’t intend to open a practice – it’s not my path. But I have this yarn and I’m called to make it, but I’m not sure if it’s really “A THING”. I mean, I just made it up, right?! I just had this idea, and I felt like it made sense, and in my heart I knew what to do, so I did it, right? But like: “why?” and “does it work?” and “where did the idea come from?” (I have NEVER heard of anyone doing it before.)

So even though I was excited to move forward, there was still an uncertainty: What next?

Then as a final exercise, Tash had us all pull one tarot card for each person to interpret (without looking at the card, just by intuition) for us as a final message for the weekend (we could then look at the card).

Well, I kid you not: 4 separate people handed me a random card. I gave 4 separate readings.

And 4 times I got THE SAME CARD.

The-Volva(Thankyou to fairyologist.me for the picture)

I giggled at the name. (Of course!: I’m only human!) And I looked at her face looking at me like “You know, don’t you…?!”

But I didn’t know. I drew a complete blank.

So I left it, and I came home. And I went to bed, and then got up and went about my day. And took my kids to school. And did the laundry. And I couldn’t for the life of me, work out what I was supposed to know. So I turned to google. And I googled “Volva”.

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And I nearly FELL OFF MY CHAIR.

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And suddenly, there was my Sister.

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(Like a pale white version of Samara.)

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And my blood ran cold. And I got the message loud and clear. This is not new: what I do is ANCIENT. And I know it, because it is my heritage. Volur are Norse. They were Germanic. My sisters were putting energy and intention and magic into yarn together as Norne, and Valkyrie, and Seeresses in times of ancient mythology and history.

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She was right. I didn’t ‘make this idea up’ to put energy and intention into threads and yarn. It, like my sister, has ALWAYS been in me. It’s my heritage.

I didn’t imagine.

I remembered.

I knew.

norns

 

 

It’s about more than just wool.

No one ever makes something without an intention. And no one ever knits or crochets an item without someone or some purpose in mind. I’ve long been inspired by that, and by the chain of hands yarn goes through in the process of becoming ‘someone’s’. A chain of creativity and intention.

I love the way fibre craft connects me. I sit down, my mind slows, and I create. I can just be. I think about my Nan and Pop – they passed away when I was seven – and Nan was a very ill lady for a long long time. She couldn’t get out and do much. But she sat down, and put her hands over mine, and she taught me to knit. And my pop taught me to crochet. and I think many many people who knit and crochet were taught this skill by their grandparents, and aunties, and uncles. It’s probably one of the few skills still passed down this way. Generation to generation. Hand to hand.

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See, the thing I love about handmade items is their uniqueness. Their flaws. But also, their ‘story’. I love to imagine all the hands, all the skills, all the intentions that have gone into a handmade item. I’m just a link in the chain of something really special. I add my chapter of the story, then I pass it on to the next person, and they add theirs.

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It’s part of the reason I prefer to buy raw fleece from small scale farms, rather than commercial roving dyed in huge dyelots. I like to know the whole story. I like to know that this was Wilma’s fleece; a rescue sheep from Daylesford. She belongs to Linda. Linda collected and sold her fleece, and I add my hands to the story. And then I will hand it along to the next person, who will add their chapter to the story; knitting a blanket for their grandson, a beanie for their Nanna, a scarf for Uncle John. A chain of love, and creativity, and intention.

There’s something magical about that.

So that set me to thinking: I want to activate the yarn. I want to imbue it with healing qualities. I want to capture the spirit of ‘connectedness’, of ‘ancestry’, of ‘specialness’ and  healing’ that I see in yarn. And so I’ve been lead to create “Activated Yarn”.

So here’s my creation unfurling. This first attempt at a fledgling idea. I bathed my crystals in the light of the lunar eclipse. I cleaned, processed and handspun a soft Corridale fleece, into a DK weight yarn. I smudged it with White Sage to remove any negative energy, and used natural organic plant dyes to dye it a beautiful healing green. I then put it into a steeping blend of homegrown Eucalyptus and Lavender -picked from my garden – and Clear Quartz, Amethyst, Aventurine and Ruby Fuschite for healing, soothing and purifying. This cauldron bubbled away over a white candle, opening the pores of the fibre and allowing the properties of the crystals and plants to seep in. Lastly I added a tail hair from my horse Will, as an animal totem. He broke his leg as a foal, but defied all logic to not only heal, but to then go on and win races. A miracle horse. His racing name was ‘Once a Blue Moon’, so rare and miraculous his recovery.

My healing yarn is now out drying in the moonlight. What I do is not Witchcraft. It’s not Magick or anything mysterious. I work only and always from a place of love and light. It doesn’t fit into a box or a definition. All I have done is filled this yarn with love, focus and intention. Its art. It’s a special creation. My hope is that someone buys this yarn and makes something special. I hope they think about their Aunty while they make her some mittens, and that they add their chapter to the story. And that when they give the mittens to their Aunty, she feels the hands and the energy that has been put into this special creation, and it makes her heart feel good. That’s all.

It’s not magic. It’s not going to cure cancer. It’s not going to change the world.

But it’s my art. And I hope you like it. – And it’s also ok if you don’t 🙂

And you know, if you’re sick, this healing yarn wont ‘cure’ you. But I hope that if you’re going into battle, you’ll wear my armor. I made it with my heart and my hands x

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THE STORE IS UP!

Guys guys guys!

Set your alarm for 8pm tonight EST – The Hill Shadow House and Hearth store WILL BE LIVE!

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You can find it by clicking the image above, or by clicking “STORE” in the tabs across the top of this site.

I have uploaded a load of luscious yarn and fibre goodies, which are scheduled to go live tonight at 8pm. All spun, combed, dyed, knitted and handmade here at Hill Shadow Farm ❤ (Just in time to buy those last-minute chrissy gifts for Nan, Cousin Fred, Mum, Aunty Freda, or yourself!)

See you then!!! 😀

 

Dyeing to try it.

I’ve been experimenting with dyeing my own fibre for spinning of late, and Im getting more and more inspired by natural dyes. Ive been finding my brain exploding into sparks and catherine wheels of inspiration, thinking of all the plants, barks and fruits around Hill Shadow farm which could dye my yarn. I LOVE feeling inspired.

Here’s a link which shows you some of the differences between natural and synthetic dyes.

It looks like a fairly simple process, though I think there’s a lot of variables which can affect your colours.

Aaaaaaaaand since Im getting my online store up and going (!), keep an eye out for my new natural dyed, Hill Shadow Farm inspired, compassionate yarns… I cant wait. Im going to be a busy busy bee!

Here’s some beautiful dyeing and natural yarns to get YOU inspired! ❤

Timber and Twine

Dye-lot

Right: I’ve got a tonne of fleece I have to get clean and dry before tomorrow’s carding.

 
  
Im getting together with some friends and very talented fibre artists so we can swap knowledge and fluff.

Check us out on FB

Watch this space…!

xx

 

When it all feels like a ‘job’.

Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to slow down. There always seems to be another task in the back of my head that needs to be done, and not nearly enough time to do it all. Im working on a number of projects at the moment, all of which demand my attention, my work environment has been tense and stressful, and the girls have all their end-of-year activities on and:swimming lessons, dance recitals, christmas parties.

And the news is full of violence. And the pollen is itching my eyes. And we’ve had restless broken sleep each night for various reasons. And it’s all just a bit loud, a bit bright, a bit much.

I’m trying – REALLY TRYING – to keep slowing down. To breathe. To remember the really important things.

Im trying to carefully and deliberately to compartmentalise my work hours to keep work from bleeding into my day. When I plan to work for an hour, at the end of the hour, I close the program, get up and walk away from the computer.

Easier said than done.

Part of the stress is planning for a big market coming up. I’ve been spinning wool and dyeing roving late into the evening (aften way past when I planned to go the bed!) spinning wool until my eyes ache and my fingers are stiff. I want to have tonnes of beautiful things for the stall. Often I work myself to the bone like this, only to sell NOTHING on the day, and come home not even having my stall-money re-couped. That can be so disheartening.

But then I had a bit of an epiphany at a friend’s house the other day. She made a comment about trying to find a craft that would be lucrative. She was going to try pottery, commentting on how she felt she’d be able to make more volume in less time. (Can I add as an aside here, that I do not mean to suggest in any way that this friend is materialistic or intends to sell-out and go into mass production! Merely that she was talking about the need to help supplement her family income! I hear that!) But it made me think about handcrafting vs mass-production. Would I sell-out if I could find some way to make this stuff pay?

And I realised I wouldn’t. I really enjoy the spinning and knitting. I love the slowness and meditation of feeding out the fibre, and the suprise results of dyeing, and making bits and bobs for people I love who appreciate my pieces. When I feel like Im working to a deadline, or trying to make it profitable, I dont enjoy it. It becomes mundane, and becomes just another ‘job’.

I have a job. I do this because its fun. Even when I get up in the dark, load the car, drive to a market, set up sit in the sun/wind/rain all day, and come home having not sold a single thing; I’ve still had a fun day.

So I’m not going to find another more lucrative thing to sell. Cos I love doing this. And someday I may have to buy a warehouse to store all my unsold bits and pieces, and then move in to it because wool wont pay my rent. Oh well.

But I AM going to remember to stop stressing about finishing items in time for the markets. I can never predict what’s going to sell or not anyway! This is NOT MY JOB. (I should stop making it like one!)

And as for my actual job… :/ Weeellll. It pays the bills. Mostly. And the people are nice. Mostly. And I can turn off my computer, and not open my email, until I decide to be in “work mode” tomorrow.

Its been getting warmer too. We had friends over for our yearly “hazard reduction burn” (aka Bonfire Night) and the kids had a ball! I wanna plant more food in my garden. And take the girls to the beach more. And start doing some running again. Not for weightloss this time. Not for punishment. I dont do that anymore. Just for a bit of fun, and to get the dog out for some exercise. Thats another thing I have conciously decided not to make into a “job”. It started to become one a while back, so I stopped, cold turkey. I realised I was using running to punish my body for being “too big”. I was using it as a weapon to beat myself with, when I really needed to be my own friend.

The little voice in my head became a drill sargent. screaming out internet “fitspo” slogans: “You’ll make time, or you’ll make excuses!”, “you just dont want it bad enough!. I imagined laying my boot into myself, curled in defense on the ground, kicking and flogging it to get up and get my ‘fat ass’ to do one more rep, when what I really shouldve been saying to myself is “…honey, you’re tired. You’ve been caring for 2 little kids, a farm, and a sick partner all day on your own. It’s ok to go to bed.” I was my own worst enemy. In fact if i had heard anyone absuing someone the way I abused myself inside my head, I would’ve bodily thrown myself inbetween, screaming “STOP! STOP!!! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?! SHE DOESN’T DESERVE IT! LEAVE HER ALONE”.

But I wasn’t my friend.

I choose to be my friend now. I wont punish myself anymore.

So I choose to slow down. To log off. To stop making the things I love a ‘job’. Even if I only have a few beautiful, hand made things on my market stall, they will be made with integrity and love. Even if I didn’t push through to get that last email sent, at least I wont be stressed and yelling distractedly at my kids. Even if the house is dusty, and the garden’s going a bit to seed and weed, Im not a size 12, and I havent worn my Garmin in months, it’s ok. I can cut myself some slack and do something nice for me. It’s what friends do.

Puppies, pumpkins, pesto and pesky predators.

Hello! I’m typing this on my phone from my front step! So apologies if the spelling/formatting is all over the place! I have to blog this way as I’m multitasking: Chaperoning the chickens as they free range at the same time! 
Mrs Fox is back! And she’s picked off 3 chickens in the past 4 weeks. Last week as Ben left for work in the early dark hours of the morning, he caught her staring greedily into our henhouse; Sitting on her haunches at the door like a dog at a butcher shop window! And she comes right into our yard and up to the front door! Cheeky Lady! 
So no un-escorted free ranging for Lennon and the ladies. Grr. 
But today is an absolute cracker! My washing’s on the line, the windows are all open… It’s so lovely even some of my daffodil bulbs have gotten confused. 
“This is spring, right..?”
Wills having a lovely day in a light cotton sheet. I’ve added some warm, boiled barley porridge to his nightly feeds. He’s a bit older now, and he needs a bit extra in the colder months. Plus he deserves it ❤️x

I’m knitting up a red neck warmer for Katie to wear with her school uniform and some thick socks for Ben. These are my first socks! And they’re cuff-down style – which I believe isn’t usual?! – on teeny thin double-point needles. The first one has turned out so beautifully! 

There’s just a small problem: I only have one ball of wool left and the first sock took one-and-a-bit. And I found out from Morris and Sons in Melbourne that Admiral ombré 6 fach is discontinued!!! F%#€+*!?&@!!!!! Does anyone know where I can get a ball of this?! 

And the gardens going quietly into hibernation. The last corn fronds are sagging. The last tomatoes are shrivelling up. The last basil is curling and going brown. The bales around the bale garden are disintegrating as the first frosts come and turn the once lush-green baby fronds to crunchy silver-grey crystals. We’ll start piling up oak leaf-mulch, manure and compost.

There’s a few pumpkins sprawling around, which will come in handy for hot pumpkin soup with fresh crusty sour dough bread. And I’ve planted a few garlic bulbs, just to see if they come up. The chooks are moulting so we’re only getting one egg here or there, but I’ve been bottling passata at fever-pace: can’t let any of those tomatoes go to waste! There’s nothing like fresh pasta with homegrown tomato passata, and pesto made from the spoils of the ‘Basil Forest’! It’s our go-to week night dinner at the moment!
And if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll already know that Hill Shadow Farm will soon be getting a new addition!

Meet little Bluebell! She’s only 3 weeks old, but I’m totally smitten. She’s pure Border Collie. (Her mother Zoe is an absolute stunner, and super smart!) A pedigree working dog! I can’t wait to take her to obedience and agility classes! Keeping Collies active and mentally stimulated is essential, and I’m totally up to the challenge!
So that’s us, up to now. Katie’s at school, and Tara’s napping, so I’m being Chook Shepherd and sitting in the sun.

It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta do it 😉

Xx