Sedate or seditious?

What does this say about me?

What does this say about me?

I’ve just come across a recent story from The Guardian with a very promising headline:

Knitting and needlework: relaxing hobbies or seditious activities?

But, on reading the article, you find quotes such as:

Wool shops now are places of luxury offering cappuccino while you browse designer, hand-dyed yarns. Knitting not as necessity, but art – for women who have just too much time on their hands.

and

In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in crafts, partly fuelled by celebrity knitters such as the Duchess of Cambridge and Kate Moss

Ah, so much complete nonsense in one place! Although I have to say that the article is worth looking at for the comments at the end… us knitters are certainly capable of ‘prodding buttock’ with our pointy sticks! I was not aware particularly of ‘celebrity knitters’, unless you count people like Kaffe Fassett or Debbie Bliss, and our local knitting yarn shops would throw you out if you arrived with a coffee and they certainly wouldn’t offer you so much as a mug of instant!

I’m disappointed that our media continue to stereotype in the sort of way this article does – apparently in the past all knitters were grannies and now we are all idle middle-class women, probably knitting whilst reading Hello magazine. The only “seditious” knitters that the author could summon up were Mahatma Gandhi (who described himself as a weaver) and a few goddesses. No mention of Knit the City… or any of the other yarnstorming groups. No mention of Betsy Greer and the craftivism movement. Not even any reference to knitting for charity… not exactly seditious, but certainly generous. Nor was there a hint that many people earn a living from this ‘relaxing hobby’.

Ah well, that’s me getting wound up about the media again. I really should stop reading it… I know I’ll just toddle off and drive my Chelsea tractor to the local yarn shop, to sip designer coffee and fondle all the hand-dyed yarn…

… actually, no, I think I’ll write a blog post about yarn crafts and sedition… watch this space!

 

Hands in the dirt, head in the sun

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder. Alfred Austin

Abundant potato growth

Abundant potato growth

After a rather frantic week retrieving chickens from their holiday home (thank you Glad and Mr Glad for looking after them), retrieving dogs from the kennels (thank you Ann at Rhydlewis – a unique place where the dogs are cared for better than anywhere I know), attending a day-long trustees’ meeting and a learning guild get-together, as well as editing a couple of papers and doing piles of washing, I have finally managed to find some time to spend in the garden. During our two-week absence the potatoes have grown like mad and the raspberry canes have become laden with (as-yet unripe) fruit; the mange tout are on their way up (the variety we are growing – yellow-podded – is tall) as are the runner beans; the courgettes and squashes are settling in and the onions are flowering – boo! As always, some things do well and some don’t, but that is the way of the world and gardening does not come with a guarantee.

Squash, corn and beans doing well

Squash, corn and beans doing well

Anyway, overall the week has been quite stressful, but a few hours in the garden are good therapy. I find gardening to be remarkably good for my state of mind – it gives me time to think, as well as allowing me to be both creative and peaceful. I love seeing plants grow that I have nurtured from seed. Even when it comes to the time that they have to be removed, knowing that what is left will go on the compost heap and contribute to the next cycle is immensely satisfying.

But, reading an article in The Guardian today by Alys Fowler, I discover that gardening is not good for me just because of all the things that I’ve mentioned, but also because there are bacteria  (specifically Mycobacterium vaccae) in the soil that have a beneficial effect on health. These bacteria boost production of seratonin (which is a mood regulator) and help to build a healthy immune system if we come into direct contact with them. So, there you are – get out there and get your hands dirty and you really will be improving your health and happiness!

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