Monday, 15 September 2014

September flowers

Spring is here, hooray! The weather hasn't been exactly quick to cooperate, but there's no denying the swiftly lightening mornings with slightly less chill to the air, not to mention the explosion of bird activity around dawn! It's finally time to do things in the garden like planting out shrubs, and preparing the potager for spring veges. There's also time to appreciate bulbs and blossoms, and to say goodbye to some winter performers whose season is almost over.

Clockwise from top left: vivid coral blossoms on peach Rose Chiffon, a hellebore setting seed, the first anemone of the season, almond blossom, a cheerful pansy, a pretty white and cream daffodil, gorgeous hycacinth, camellia Fairy Blush (still going strong and having bloomed since May!), the first lavender of the season, blue star flowers (ipheon uniflorum), the blue and pink flowers of pulmonaria, a gaudy but welcome daffodil.

How is your garden this season? Pop over to May Dreams Gardens to find links to gardens all around the world blooming in spring and autumn!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Macro phone photography

I've been having a play with some new lenses I got for my phone. There are 3 lenses, including fish eye and wide angle, but it's the macro that I've spent the most time with. Springtime blossoms are perfect for macros.

Above: a ruffled daffodil, fresh growth on lavender, peach blossom.

I got this set on Trade Me for about $25.00. There is a separate fish eye lens, and the macro and wide angle lenses screw into each other. When you use them both together it's wide angle, and if you remove the wide angle lens it's macro.

 They just clip over the phone camera, so can be used with any brand of phone or even tablets.

With the macro lens you need to be 1-2 cm away from your subject. It's amazing how much tiny detail it captures! It works much better than I thought a cheap lens would.

Above: fine hairs on an anemone petal, fuzzy hairs and raindrops on lambs ears, a teeny tiny unfurling leaf on the cercis tree. 

 Above: pollen-covered stamens in an almond blossom, leaf buds on an apple tree, the glistening petals of a hyacinth.

 One thing I quickly realised is that as well as magnifying detail, the lens magnifies any camera shake. It can be hard to hold it steady while getting in close to a subject which might also be blowing in the wind. I accidentally tore through the spider's web I was trying to capture!

Above: Cercis buds, torn spider web, a drop of water cupped in the tiny new leaves of a lupin seedling.

Just for comparison, here are the little seedlings in their punnet. 

Spring is here so there will be plenty of new leaves and flowers to photograph in the coming weeks. Pop back tomorrow to see what's been flowering in my garden this month!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Crochet dishcloths

 I recently made some crochet dishcloths. They were a bit of an experiment because I kind of had doubts, and wondered if they would be as effective as a proper shop-bought dishcloth. There is a great range of bench-wiping, dish-cleaning cloths available these days, but the problem is that I don't like most of the colours they come in. So I bought some cotton yarn, found some patterns on Pinterest and set to work.

 They were very quick, fun and easy to work up. Especially the pink one - I enjoyed that stitch, and it scalloped the edges all by itself! You can find the pattern here. For the striped one, I just did rows of single crochet, and alternated the colours a couple of times.

 So, do they work as well as a shop-bought super cleaning cloth? I think they do. Being cotton they are nice and absorbent, and the rough texture means they clean dishes well! They wipe up crumbs on the bench and subject themselves to being rinsed under the tap. To disinfect them I use the same method I use on all dishcloths - microwave them on High for 2 minutes then machine wash. They have stood up well to this treatment. 

I was worried they would shrink when submerged in a sink of hot water, but I found the opposite to be true - they are actually more prone to stretching as you wring them out and drape them over the tap or sink. That's ok though as cotton yarn doesn't have a lot of give so they don't get too much out of shape.
I love the way crochet dishcloths look and perform in my kitchen, so I'll be making more. What about you? Would you use a crochet dishcloth?


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