Daily rambles

I’ve probably often mentioned this, but one of the greatest benefits of unschooling is that I get to spend at least two hours in the place I love the most, the mountains. (Well… Hills. But I consider them mountains, not having ever lived in a country where mountains are actually mountains.)
I live in the city, sadly, but I am blessed by the fact that with just a few minutes in the car I can be in the forest.
You’ve probably guessed just by the name of this blog that yes, I am a tree hugging hippie in many respects. You have guessed correctly.
We usually go on the same walk, but the benefit of that is that you begin to see things more clearly, because you know the area so well. I could probably find my way around the valley with my eyes closed at this stage! The trees where we walk are mostly sitka spruce, a beech wood, and a mixed wood where there are beech, sitka spruce and a sprinkling of ash at the edge. There’s an abundance of hawthorn to the north closer to the farmer’s land, a beautiful elder (elderberry) tree in the ash area, one or two budleia along the first path, birch, sweet chestnut, larch near the car park and a ragged mixture of gorse, heather, moss, and reeds in the area where the spruce were felled some time ago. It’s incredible to watch how that entire area sprang back after being cut, from being piles of grey, bare branches to a flourishing habitat filled with birds and deer. For plants, there is a lot of rosebay willowherb, heather and gorse, foxglove, nettles, coltsfoot, rushes, bracken, countless amounts. There’s plenty of fungi but I am sadly not at all familiar with their names, apart from sulfur tuft (There is a LOT of that around) and fly agaric.
The animal life is also alive, with deer constantly around, fox tracks, ravens, woodpigeons, chaffinches, robins, coal tits, jays, etc. Just this morning we were going up into the beech wood when the chaffinches we had spotted for the last few days were even more lively than usual. We sat quietly for a while and watched them feeding on (We think) the beech mast all over the ground. I’d say there were between 20-40 of them. As we reached the top of the beech wood there were two jays flying between the branches overhead.
There are a thousand stories I could tell about those forests, and I don’t think my keyboard would hold up if I tried to recount them all, so for now I’ll head onwards to other, less computer based activities.
By that I mean carving a handle for my (proudly hand smithed) knife. That’s what it will probably mean for the next week or so until I finish it. Or knitting. I’m knitting a lot lately too.

Peace,
Amy

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Natural Dreamcatcher DIY!

I’ve now had this blog for some… two and a half years, methinks? A lot has happened in that time, although I think the last few months has been my longest blogging break yet 😦 But I’m back now!!
It’s been a beautiful summer… And autumn… 20 celcius in September for two and maybe more weeks? Never before. I’m happy, and I think I become more creaitve in the sunshine. It’s like solid happiness for me! I’m out of school too, so I have had some serious crafting/whittling/drawing/music sessions over the past while, and the sun only makes it better!
My mum is starting her Forest School training group soon, and I’m going to be helping out, so I made some dreamcatchers as examples as they are some of the things we will possibly teach the kids to make. However, thinking I was beginning to make some regular natural dreamcatchers didn’t exactly turn out, because yeah, I never do things the same way twice! I think the sunshine was giving me cravings of some brighter colours so I used cloth strips. And you know what, I actually took photos for a tutorial! I have never fully succeeded in doing this before as I usually get too carried away to remember to photograph the important stages…
Enough talking, here’s the tutorial!
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Equipment and materials:
Scissors
A long, bendy stick that will not break or crumple when bent into a circle, preferably willow (I used dogwood, common in Ireland at least) Test around a bit, it might not work first time!
Wool/string of various colours, I like to use earth tones myself.
Feathers, Nuts, any beautiful natural things you can tie string to!
1cm wide strips of cloth, from 1/2 ft to 1 1/2 ft long
Imagination! (Most important)
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Bend your long stick into a circle. It won’t be even, so bend it a bit with your hand.

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Get your wool or string and tie it around the circle where the thick end of the loop stops.

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Wrap your string once around the thicker part and then cross over both to wrap towards the thinner part

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When it is holding together the ends well, pull the string toward the middle of the wrap and create a loop above as shown. Once the loop is made cut the string with a reasonable tail to tie off the loop with (about where my scissors are in the third photo

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Pull that loose end upwards and tie off the loop with the string as shown.
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To begin the weaving, cut a long peice of wool or thread (I was using a different, green one in this) and tie it around the top where the loop is. I used a timber hitch for extra strength but it’s unnessacary if you don’t know it.
Bring this peice of wool to another place on the frame and reaching underneath, pull wool through itself and pull tight (See pictures, it’s difficult to explain!) repeat all around the frame.
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Once you reach the top of the frame again, make the last section a little shorter. Then bring the wool around the first string in the same way as you did the frame, and pull tight until it is in the center of the supporting string. Continue this way until you reach as far as you’d like. If you run out of wool along the way tie another peice on to the end of the previous.
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If you wish, tie some of your natural things to some strings and attach to the base of the dreamcatcher. If you want you can leave it at that but I highly recommend the next step, as, in my opinion, it gives the dreamcatcher a very beautiful and summery feel.
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Take your strips of cloth, and if they are neat and orderly, attack them. Pull them, stretch them, twist them, fray them.
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Next, fold your strip in half and push the top around the dreamcatcher frame. Push the two loose ends through the top and pull tight. Continue around the base of the dreamcatcher as much as you wish, and ta dah!
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If you have any questions, comment or queries please don’t hesitate to use the comments box below! I would be glad to help you!

Everything – Poem

Everything is watching
Always
Always

I sometimes find at those times
When everything just falls into its place,
And the sky becomes one with the earth and it floods
Through the fragile small body that
Holds me,
Maybe.

And my feelings become one with the earth
As tears fall from my eyes down to the roots.
In those times I can’t breathe because
All that is holding me’s so huge,
So beautiful and bright, So bright and huge
And whenever my hands find the earth
Among pavements I wrap my fingers
Round soil and plants just to get a bit closer.

In dark nights I wonder if all that ever mattered
Were the sky and the sea and the stones, but turning my face to the breeze I know,
That maybe they’re nothing at all.

And when I am falling to pieces I place my ears to the bark of the trees
I tell myself that maybe I’m part of the spirit that’s

moving through them

Just turn around please, somebody tell me that all that I am is not lost

That the dust on the breeze and the sky on my fingers can do something more
Than us all
But maybe
Maybe

If the broken down houses and deserted forests can play, melodic, a chord among those once lost
The music of the flames, never stolen, can sing

Sing, Sing!

And all at once it bursts
Oh, the colours of the dawn, the growing of the leaves.
In the brilliant circles lie the real truths

It cannot be described. No.
It is the earth.

Art of Mentoring

I know it’s been a while, it’s been too long, in fact, but I have just been away in Scotland at the Art of Mentoring, again.

Last year I probably obsessed over it, and yes, I’m here to do that again. Honestly, though, I have never been happier in my entire life than I was there. The whole week was so sunny and warm and the people were just so amazing. I thought that it was good last year, and this year was a thousand times better. I have so many amazing, beautiful memories.
For those who don’t know, which I’d say most of you don’t, the Art of Mentoring UK is a week long nature immersion gathering, living in community, and it’s simply amazing. The teens, nicknamed the Kestrels, go off on our own camp and journey for the whole thing. I have made some amazing friends there and for the first time in my life I felt as if I was really a part of something. I could be myself and talk to others in ways I’m hardly ever able to. We were led by some amazing mentors, a good few of them almost our age, and the whole week was filled with happiness, joy and connection. We stayed up all night talking and singing, we played games to heighten our awareness, we talked openly in groups, we learned and shared skills, and really connected to nature. The weather was amazing and so despite not being allowed to bring tents on our journey away it was still lovely to sleep out under the stars (apart from the midges).

It’s been really hard coming home from that. I don’t even want to have to face a year without seeing the people I met there. It feels as if I’ve left home.

Carved leaf pendants

Here are some newer versions of the wooden leaf pendants I blogged about a little while ago.
It’s been a very very very long time since I’ve posted, and I’m sorry! I’ll really try to post more now that I’m free from school for about 18 months! Longest summer holiday ever. I’m so happy to not be going back anytime soon, even though I’ll miss it. Also, I was in Portugal for ten days, so I couldn’t exactly post when I was there, seeing as I was in a house/tent in a rural mountain valley with no internet. It was lovely.
I’m making a lot of these, with maybe the intention of setting up an Etsy to sell them? I just don’t know if anyone would be interested. Would any of you guys be interested? They probably wouldn’t be over €15 so not exactly bank breaking. The backs can also have a custom design on them 🙂
Here’s some I’ve made lately (back and front).
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Woolen Cloak

I got myself some nice felted woolen cloth at the Battle of Clontarf reanactment thingy that came to Dublin last weekend. It was pretty awesome, if I may say so myself, although I was more interested in the traditional crafts that were being shown in the viking village. And so I made myself a cloak, despite the fact I only had 1×1.5 m2 of cloth. I had to do a patchwork hood with the cloth I’d cut off the edges while I was rounding them and the neckline when I cut it out. I attempted to make a pettern but it came out a bit… funky, cause I don’t remember any measurements I made. I remember how to do it but I don’t remember why, if you get my gist. I also made a little swirled wire clasp which actually works pretty well! I hand sewed everything. I can’t wait to use it in the woods! It’ll be good camouflage.
Here’s some photos:
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I’m off to France; and other recent happenings

Wow, why must it take so long for me to post. Wow. Sorry about that hiatus.
Okay so what’s happening at the moment? Well I’m going to France pretty soon, 2 weeks I think! It’s an exchange thing, my partners really nice and I’m so excited to go! I’m also going to Scotland to AoM again obviously, which I’m so excited about. It’s my favourite place in the world. I love the people there so much. And I’m also going to Portugal to go camping, which I’m also crazy excited about. I can’t wait for the summer! The weather here is so nasty at the moment though 😦
I’ve been making a few things too, I made a REALLY easy dress the other day which I shall post soon; and some delicious gluten free cheese biscuits which I need to make a billion more of because they’re beautiful.
More on those later, for now here’s some pictures of walks I’ve been on recently:
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Wood burned sign

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I just made this little thing with a wood burner.
And a knife.
If I could type a suspicious evil face I would.
And a hand drill.
And some sandpaper.
Maybe a pencil? Not sure.
Anyhow, all dangerous weapons, yaaay.
Maybe not sandpaper though. Just… painful. Not easily resulting in death as the others.

I’m not actually this creepy.

(Add another suspicious smileyface here)

I’m not really sure what I should do with this, maybe put it on a bag of forest tools or somethin’?

Leather Pouch

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I made this little leather pouch a few days ago, and it was surprisingly simple. I just used a leather punch and counted out all the holes so that it would fit together, then carved a little wooden fastener and used a wood/leather burner to make designs on it. I was going to burn designs on the pouch itself but the leather was very soft and it bunched up a lot and with a funny colour when I tested it on another piece, which explains the penciled in designs. I used a type of leather cord to hold it together, which is reasonably strong but it shed all over me when I was pulling it thrIMGP6366ough the holes.
Sorry for not posting much recently, I’ve been pretty busy rehearsing for the school musical, The King and I. It’s amazing how much work you have to put in even when you’re not a major part. I’m so tired now.
I think school has actually destroyed my creativity. I can’t make things anymore. I’m too tired.