Invasion of the little people...

Yes, another extremely small person has arrived into our lives. This makes the wee man seem like Gulliver in Lilliput by comparison. 

It has only taken me a month to write this post and I am typing from under a sleeping babe right now so I'll be brief. Things will be quiet around here for a while as we all welcome the new lady into the household. It's been a veritable population explosion here this year between the sheep (from 4 to 7), the goats (1 to 3) and humans (3 to 4). The cats are maintaining their numbers thankfully. Oh, and we have a neighbour's horse who has come to stay for a while. So there are plenty of creatures to look after and not much brain-power left in the adults. Dealing with the poo, be it nappies or piles of sheep and horse dung is about as far as our mental capacities can take us at the moment.

In other news, for any of you about Longford on Culture Night, my sister and father and myself along with three others will be showing some work as part of the Engage Longford group show. I'll attempt to document it here after friday. In the meantime, back to dealing with poo.

Pinwheel quilting and geek sewing

 Normal activities were postponed for a short time as some therapeutic sewing was in order this week. For some reason I decided I'd like to know how to make a pinwheel quilt and decided to make a cushion cover for a rather grotty orange velvet cushion that has been knocking about since I made it 10 years ago or so... (Orange velvet has its places, but my home is no longer one of them.)
I used this great tutorial on how to make pinwheel squares and recycled a linen skirt (of roughly the same age as the orange velvet cushion cover) and some other recycled fabrics to make it.

In the process I re/learned a few things: 
1. Piecing a quilt together is SLOW!!!
2. Accuracy is key. (This is why I am not a quilter.)
3. Linen is very hard to quilt with. (It's not that I'm a messy and sub-accurate quilter, I'm blaming the linen on this one.)
I quilted it in the ditch (that means doing your quilting along your seam lines rather than sewing while sitting in mud) which just seemed easier and quicker than other ways of quilting it.

I'm not totally sure about this one. I made it more for the practice and learning, and it has definitely improved the look of the cushion by about a billion-fold, but I think it is still growing on me.

What excited me more to be honest was doing the other side. I decided that sashiko embroidery would be perfect for drawing a map for those who are lost in the Milky Way and trying to find their way back to planet Earth. 
 It is hard to catch on camera because of the colours, but it is based on the map on the golden record that NASA sent into space with the Voyager spaceship. It shows the location of our solar system in respect to 14 pulsars, which is essentially a map to home, which is what cushions are all about - home.
(More info on the map here in case you are interested. I had a book on the Voyager spaceship as a child and loved the idea that we had sent this amazing record of sounds of planet Earth out into space with instructions how to find us - a map even! And it is still out there, floating around the cosmos!)
So it seemed an apt thing to embroider on the cushion - a map to home. And somehow it is more meaningful to me than the other side! 
 Maybe that is the problem with the other side - it doesn't mean much to me. It looks nice, but that doesn't seem enough somehow.

On the subject of filling textiles with meaning, my dear friend Felix is running a kickstarter campaign for her amazing knitting book at the moment. Check it out here. Felix is also doing a blog tour and will be coming this way later in the month so keep checking in!

Blackberries and Seamus Heaney

The blackberries are amazing this year.

But it's not just us that think that.
Csibi likes to help with the picking.

And Jake will happily eat the whole bucketful. 

This poem has been in my mind after the sad news of Seamus Heaney's death. 
Thankfully our blackberries will meet with a better end - there are 2kgs tucked into the freezer ready to be made into jam.

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not. 

Seamus Heaney