In 2002 I left behind the bright lights of Sydney to follow my heart and new farmer husband, Miles, to Keith in South Australia. Miles and I have a 14 year old son, Charlie, who is full of fun, sport and adventure and I also have 3 stepsons who live and study in Adelaide.
Originally from Grenfell in NSW, when I moved to Keith in the South East of South Australia, I soon became involved in the farming and country way of life in our small community. Being new to town I became involved in a local craft co-operative shop called the Purple Paddock, sewing make-up bags, and I have been making all sorts of bags ever since.
I think I have been blessed with wonderful creative genes that have been passed on to me from my mother and both my grandmothers. It has been nurtured since I was a little girl sewing alongside my mother as she taught me to use the sewing machine at the age of 8. I had been asking for a toy sewing machine and she thought I was old enough to try the real machine and I have been sewing ever since.
Mum’s mother (Florence) was a milliner in Sydney in the 20’s when hats were an essential part of one’s wardrobe. She taught me how to knit when I was about 12 years of age and one of my first projects was a pair of gloves, which I still wear today to collect the firewood in the winter.
My Dad’s mother, Pearl Lucy, was a wonderful embroiderer and lacemaker. Sadly, she passed away when I was about 5, a little too early to learn her secrets, but I am the lucky recipient of her collection of laces and threads and needles. I love opening the old tins and dreaming of what they could have been, and may well, one day become.
Sewing and knitting has always has been my passion and I am excited to be able to turn my passion into a small crafty business. At the same time, it is the therapy I turn to when life gets too much. It is so soothing to sit down at night and get out my latest knitting project or do a bit of sewing. Most days I am thinking of the next project and what I can accomplish each night. There’s always a new pattern or idea running around my head waiting to become a reality.
Naming my growing business after Dad’s mother, Pearl Lucy, I now make a wide range of bags from makeup bags to tote bags and quilts. I sell them at the Purple Paddock, in Keith, at Markets around the region and online.
Lately, I have to thank Nicole Mallalieu, from Melbourne, for her wonderful classes, which I attended in the Grampians at Grampians Texture for a couple of years. She is an amazing teacher and her books “You Sew Girl” and “The Better Bag Maker”, have taught me an enormous amount about bag construction and many tricks of the trade in the last couple of years. If you can get to one of her classes you will love it! My other great love is making quilts, which I will share with you along the way.
Of course when you live on a farm there is always the Garden! Before I moved to Keith, I studied Landscape Garden Design at Ryde School of Horticulture in Sydney, and over the years I have consulted and designed many gardens in Sydney and Keith and love the challenge of researching and designing every project and choosing the right plants. Sometimes its a hard choice between gardening and sewing. What to do? So I do gardening in the morning and sewing in the afternoon. Well that is usually the plan, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.
Gardening in Keith (once known as the 90 Mile Desert) is quite a challenge to say the least, especially after coming from Sydney and Grenfell in NSW, and I am still learning and trying new methods and plants.
To start with Keith is classed as a Mediterranean climate, with very hot summers and cold winters with frosts. Our soils are high in Ph due to being on the Limestone Coast of South Australia. Some soils are heavier loams and others soils are just sand. In my garden I am mainly gardening on sand, which has been built up with organic matter over the years, but it is really very hard to get plants established, and getting new plants through their first summer is the greatest challenge each year. I am lucky to have some gorgeous heavy loam soil which was imported from our other farm and this has been the saving grace of my roses, but mainly its a garden based on sandy non wetting soil.
This year it looks like the Sedums have won, they are looking good and a few Grevilleas, Eremophilas are good too, so that’s what I’ll try, a few more of those fellows along with some native grasses to fill up those empty spots.
The photos below show the plants that grow best, grey leaves of course!! Here we have Gazania tomentosa, Aloe sp.(love their bright red flowers), Kalanchoe sp, Teucrium fruticans, Centaurea cinerarea sp and Agave americana, also some Westringia fruiticosa and Aeonium arboreum for their red coloured leaves.
Camelot is a sprawling country garden which has been designed to maintain the views to our surrounding paddocks, sometimes there is not much planning involved in the plantings, its more about testing and seeing which plants are going to survive and then we plant a few more of those survivors.
If you have any challenging spots in your garden or questions, why not get in touch via the contact form below and ask away. I’ll do my best to send you an answer within a few days.