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garden chat

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A cloudy morning inspired some garden photos today. Oddly, I have taken so few photos in the garden this year. It’s been an unusual year out there all around, and though I love my garden I have had a lot of moments at odds with it this summer.

The summer winds have blown it into a crazy mess, which is partly my fault for lack of sufficient supports. Some of my usual staples (such as kale!) didn’t make it this year. My peas all spontaneously died, one after another (tunnelling rodents?). The hoophouse has a ridiculous flea beetle infestation, which has the leaves looking chewed up and ragged. My “live and let live” style of allowing plants to grow where they seed themselves can be fun and whimsical, and bring some great surprises, but it can also create an overwhelming situation in a garden bed. At this point in the season, we are definitely at the overwhelming stage.

But there is a lot that’s going well too, some of which is pictured above. Tomatoes are flowing with today being the biggest harvest so far at about 9 pounds. This spring I had a huge show of volunteer tomato plants, and in one bed they had actually planted themselves in a neat little row. I left quite a few, dug some out to share, and then filled in with intentionally grown starts.

Cucumbers are also flowing, not quite enough to make pickles yet, but we’ve been eating lots of cucumber, tomato and green coriander salads. Beans are starting to come on, and while I think I’ll always grow them and find the plants and beans so beautiful, we are just not green bean fans! If you have a way you like to prepare green beans that you think will convert me, I wanna hear it :)

We have had a really great year with fava beans. I made fava bean falafel recently, at the recommendation of an instagram pal and it was amazing! I plan to make it once more before they’re done, which won’t be long.

Oh! And speaking of “live and let live,” I have had a bumper crop of rocket this year! It is still giving and giving. And I didn’t plant a bit of it. It has been almost our total source of greens this year, which is pretty excellent if you ask me. I LOVE rocket.

I guess I was feeling bodacious this spring, and devoted a bed to corn. I’ve never been sure it would do well here, and it takes a lot of space, but corn! I had to try. I planted up the bed in a sort of 3 sisters style. The corn is still only 3-4 feet high, the ears are so runty and the beans are starting to take it over, but we will see. I’m so curious to pick some. It would be such a luxury to grow abundant sweet corn. I think my soil needs building before I try again. I won’t give up yet :)

So if you have made it this far, you must be into gardening at least a little… so what is happening in yours? What’s doing really well for you, or not that well this year? Are you planting for fall?

midsummer

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There are so many things I could say about right now in this season… but once I got down to writing tonight I guess I don’t really feel like it. I just feel like being in it, enjoying it, experiencing it, without discussing it all so much. A lot of people have a complaint about the heat and dry or the rain and cool or the quick passage of time (and don’t get me wrong, I might be one of them sometimes), and all the words and worries about time make me want to just be still and embrace this time fully. If you know me, you know I want summer to last forever.

August is such a ripe month. So much fresh food and soft warmth and rich light.

workshop notes

I wanted to share a few things we will cover in the August 9 Leather Craft Workshop. There are still openings. Local readers looking to learn leather craft, I would love to have you!

Participants will have the chance to explore different design ideas and I will provide a few examples of possible projects. As one learns the basics of construction, the possibilities of shape, features and style are limitless. Below are just 2 simple ideas which, in their creation, cover all the basic skills needed to allow one to expand their own ideas into tangible items.

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A finished edge can take what looks like a rustic project on toward luxury level. Edge finishing takes practice and patience, but is so worth the finished result. We will cover learn what it takes to create a beautiful, finished edge.

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My own journey learning leather work has been a slow, step by step process, starting from scratch and amassing the knowledge, experience and tools needed to create what I want in a way that satisfies me. I will be providing participants with the knowledge and skills to make their own journey much more direct. Each participant will be tooled up for the class, with everything they need to work along together. You will learn the names and purpose of each tool, all while having a hands on experience with them.

Below are just a few of the many tools we will be using.

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I find it to be so empowering to be able to take an idea and turn it into something tangible and useful, with my own hands. I am excited to teach some of the skills I love to use so much.

PS. I have had a few non-local readers reach out to request future video workshops. If there are more of you interested in the possibility of video courses for purchase, I would love to hear from you either by email abby@infusionfibers.com or here in the comments.

a little getaway

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butterfly_1_cropA short time back we packed up for a few days away at one of our favorite swimming holes. This is a pretty special place on the upper Umpqua, which Steven introduced me to back in our early days together. That first trip there for me will be forever in my memory, and each time we visit I feel all the excitement and love that I have for that place fill me right up. I want to freeze it in time forever, as the private, little-known spot it always was.

sunlitIt’s not uncommon to be able to spend days here without another person around. There is such a peace in being alone in nature; the ultimate healing balm.

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morning_amc_1We had long nights of restful sleep; easy, timeless days; time to share, tune in, discuss; and so much swimming, wading and exploring of the swimming hole. The temps were near and above 100 but that kind of heat is really quite nice when you can cool yourself at any moment.

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trail_smd_0trail_smd_1bh_1river_shaderiver_shade_smdI had prepared so much food for us at home – loaf of bread, batch of muffins, a pot of beans, hummus, tomato sauce, pesto, hard boiled eggs, oh my gosh… And then of course, we weren’t even hungry in the heat. I think we would have been set with coffee, water, fruit, nuts and seeds.

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One of the most memorable things for me about this trip was swimming at night. We clamoured down the trail, jumped in the water and swam in the moonlight. Gliding into the water was like entering thick, viscous, air – just so smooth and seamless. The water felt unbelievably silky in the dark, in a way that neither of us notice in our daytime swims.

Some day we would both love to live on a river, with our own swimming hole, with places to camp, and the possibility to host healing retreats and workshops, and the ease of cooking outside. A life that is attuned with nature is a full and rich life.

leathercraft workshop

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Hi friends! I am very excited to announce an upcoming leather craft workshop that I will be teaching in Eugene, Sunday, August 9 from 4pm – 7pm.

The workshop will be held in the beautiful storefront of Heritage Dry Goods, at 861 Willamette Street, with delicious treats provided by The Sassy Cupcake.

Pictured above are some of the tools that students will learn about and use, while we each create our own handstitched leather wallet.

Visit my web site for full details and registration. I hope to see some of you there!

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The Small Satchel is now available in Evergreen waxed canvas. It’s such a perfect shade of green I think! Not too bright, not too drab. It’s an easygoing green that pairs well with most any color.

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green_4aYou can find it here if you like.

around the studio

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A little bit of wood work and a lot of leather prep this past week or so.

It was my brother’s birthday last week, and I made him a cherry wood spoon to pair with some other gifts. This was one of my favorites of the spoons I’ve made so far – the size, the shape, the long handle – and I really enjoyed working with cherry. It has a dense grain and polished up so smoothly.

Often, and still to my surprise, the preparation of leather straps takes the longest of any other single process in the making of a bag. It begins with the hide, which I cut into strips. The strips are then split to thickness, beveled, oiled and then set aside overnight to allow the oil to soak in. If the leather is to remain natural, it is then rubbed with a wax finish, and the edges are burnished with beeswax. If the leather is to be stained, as you see above, this typically takes 3 passes, front/sides/back, with drying in between each pass. The leather is then set aside again to dry. Once the staining is to my satisfaction, the straps are rubbed with a wax finish, and the edges are burnished with beeswax. Finally, they are ready for hardware to be set, holes to be punched, etc.

I’m working on some bags in new colors for a wholesale client. They’re almost done, and as soon as they are I’ll share more. I especially love that green!

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