flying the coop

When it was time to take our leave of the cottage on the lake and go to live in the old farmhouse at Ravenhill, moving house was quite literally what we needed to do. Our sturdy little henhouse had a journey to undertake.

We made a date with a crane to pluck it from under the trees, fly it through the air, drive it through winding narrow forest country, and lift it over the herb farm fence to a spot we’d levelled and set with stones.

In the midst of packing up, we were struck with news that a tumour had returned, and I would face another major surgery in a couple of weeks time. When it rains, it pours! Which is precisely what it did – happily not until after we’d set the henhouse in place, and brought our eleven sweet hens to it, nestled in boxes of pine shavings, to settle in and wonder what just happened.

Deconstructing, then reconstructing the mink-proof run was an enormous challenge, for which I am so grateful to my father and his methodical approach. Now we are all settled in (and wondering what just happened). I am recovering well, having been carefully tended by my sweetheart and children through my convalescence, and we are beginning some new and exciting things over at Ravenhill Herb Farm! Yes, Noël Richardson wrote such exquisite books about this place. I loved In a Country Garden, and read it when I was convalescing the first time, back in March. How strange life can be. The new landowners here are wonderful, you must come and visit their farmstand if you’re ever on Vancouver Island.

lavender sachets

Extraordinarily practical, the lavender sachet is quite misunderstood. Relegated to the spinster and her old wives tales, much like potpourri and various folk remedies. No, the lavender sachet is worthy of attention. Let us give it due respect.

sachet

Unlike the vile-smelling mothball, a known carcinogen, and your run-of-the-mill chemical-laden air freshener, lavender is both potent and benign. Like the best remedies, it has multiple purposes, and does no harm. Creatures that would seek to damage linens, yarns, good wool socks and sweaters and your favourite old books alike are repelled from the territory by a bit of dried lavender. We have had our battles with silverfish and wool moths, and lavender fended them off with elegance.

I like to sew a handful of local lavender, dreamily intoxicated as I stitch, into pretty bits of rough linen, with a touch of wool from a friend’s sheep, to make the hearts and stars loftier. I loop a ribbon through so they can be hung off door handles, drawer handles, or tucked between items on shelves, into laundry baskets or my knitting bag. Little guardians of our precious yarns and woollens. A lavender heart under a restless child’s pillow is an instant sleep remedy, too. Functional, beautiful old fashioned solutions, these lavender sachets. Send me a note if you’d like a few of your own – or if you’re in Vancouver look for them at Second Nature..

studio & shop

Thanks to all who came to the open studio! I am so looking forward to seeing you again at classes starting up. Here’s a peek round the Decemberish shop.

milk painted shop hutch

So nice to fill up the milk-painted shopkeeper’s cabinet with useful things and my traditional skills studies & kits.

kits and pottery

The pottery from my autumn return to the wheel has arrived. I’ll show you more closely soon.

long and elegant kit, with creamer

antique singer

The handcrank, star of the old school quilting tutorial movies, has pride of place.

hand-thrown candlesticks

You can still get the patterns (sorry, the kits are all sold out!) as a gift to someone who’d love to learn a traditional skill. The movies in the sidebar to the left guide every kit and pattern.

studiocorner

More detail of some of the things I’ve been making, here. I’m so pleased with the new white glaze.

open studio

Come to appleturnover’s first open studio! Meet me at the lake this Sunday, December 1st, 2013, anytime from 1 until 4. All details are here. Have a cup of tea, warm up by the fire and learn to make a willow ornament. Catch an early bird sign up for New Year workshops and pick out your favourite traditional skills kit or one of my handmade tried & trues, well in time for the holidays.

studio on the lake ©2013 elisa rathje

<

p>I hope to see you! (Are you far, far away? Get appleturnover’s letter, the postcards, for a specials in the online shop.) I’m looking forward to showing you what I’ve been making lately.

raking leaves

Raking leaves is a chore transformed to a simple pleasure, these days. What is that shift that comes with even the palest sense of ownership? To want to nurture the garden, assist in its beauty and richness.

raking leaves

<

p>Now I rake with great joy in the physical work, pleased by the change from a patterned lawn to a clear one. Oh! How good to begin to settle into seasonal tasks. I rake up leaves to mulch round plants and protect beds of soil from drumming rains, to repress weeds, to layer with kitchen scraps and enrich our compost for next year’s vegetables. I’m amazed to find myself wishing for more leaves to produce leaf mould. In the rocky highlands the soil is thin, so I’m greedy for earth. Waves of red and gold drop from the trees along the lake, and my arms grow tired and recover in time for the next wave. I like to think of the first old gardener here, doing the same. When the trees are bare, the garden will be cosily put to bed.