Sunday, August 20, 2017

Good and Not-So-Good

Live in the shadow of the moon until you're bright enough to give birth to your own suns. --Curtis Tyrone Jones
Short post today. It's been a time of goods and not-so-goods. Work is still very, very hard. I'm taking stands and setting my limits and pushing back while having good cries when I can. That's pretty ok for now.

Today, I went to a workshop I signed up for at a local yoga studio called Mantra and Mandala. We met at the studio and gathered for a group mantra chant. I've been so tired and weary that I don't get too worried about doing stuff absolutely right. I sat on my mat on my bolster and just joined in and enjoyed the vibration in my chest and the peace around me. That was good.

The next part of the workshop was to walk to the park in silence, noticing as many colours along the way. Before we left, I happened to remark that I had been stung by a wasp a couple of weeks ago for the first time ever. The area got hot and swollen and itchy for a couple of days, and then it settled down after I took an antihistamine. Heh. One of those things.

And then, we all wandered to the park, looking at all the colours around us without speaking, and when we got there, we sat down on blankets on the grass to talk about painting mandalas onto round stones. A mandala, simply put, is a circular pattern that is often used in Buddhist or Hindu practices that assist with meditative practice, both during its creation and afterward. Really, it was a little craft workshop with like-minded people. It was exactly what I wanted to do.

We crouched together and looked at the samples and paints and patterns. And... wouldn't you know it... while I was crouched forward, I felt a poke and some pain, and welp, there was my second wasp sting of my life. That was no-so-good.

Luckily, one of the others lent me this handy thing that help to slow down the swelling. She let me hang onto it to apply it every so often. While I still needed an antihistamine when I got home, the sting site was almost healed by the time I left. That was good.

As was all the painting. I can't tell you how wonderful it was just to sit and smile with the others and contemplate colours all afternoon. That was very, very good:

When we finished, we said our goodbyes, and I walked back to the parking lot where I'd left my car. When I got in, I started the engine and reached for a drink I had with me... some kombucha I wanted to try. Turns out, when kombucha is left to get warm in the sun for a while, it builds up pressure... and I summarily ended up with a huge spray gun of kombucha in my car. It covered me, the steering wheel, the driver side door... pretty much everything in front of me. I sat there in shock for a moment. Not-so-good.

I ended up taking a deep breath and just driving home. I appeared at our front door with a sad, sad face, and the hubby helped me clean up the car while I got into the shower fully clothed to wash the sticky drink off my body. So much for that.

Later this evening, I pulled out my rocks to look at them. It is surprising how they turned out: I tried to plan what I was going to do, but the rocks seemed to dictate for itself what they were going to look like:

This one keeps surprising me with its beauty every time I glance at it:

This one just seemed to want to remain as asymmetrical as possible... and it totally worked. What a nice reminder that not everything need be perfect to be beautiful:

Tonight, I'm getting ready for another week. It's no secret that I am very unhappy these days. It's to the point where I don't really care who knows. I am realizing, though, that even through the wasp stings and kombucha showers of life, I am fortunate still to have my health and my family with me. I am keeping those things close to my heart these days. They are good to have... and I am grateful for all that is good.

Have a good week.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

First World Photo Problems

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.
-- from "I Worried," by Mary Oliver 
I was determined to spend a few moments this weekend to appreciate the small things in life. So far, it's been all food stuff, like these fish cakes I made with some smoked mackerel, leftover potatoes, some flour, and some oregano from my garden. The lettuce is from my farm box, and the dressing is homemade as well:

Today, I made some pico de gallo to go with the chicken tacos we had for dinner. These tomatoes are also from the farm box, and I gasped with delight when I sliced them. Those sure are some purty tomatoes:

We've had some pretty smoky skies around here on the Island from all of the terrible forest fires on the mainland. While it's not nearly as bad as it could have been, the smoke, combined with the heat and with my relentless workdays have made for some tiring days. Last night, we finally got a spot of rain, and this morning the skies were blue with big white, fluffy clouds and the temperature was cool and comfortable. It was perfect weather for showing off my finished Over-and-Over Top.

You may recall that this top is named as such because I have literally worked nearly every single section at least twice, mostly due to errors. I thought I was finished a couple of weeks ago, but I decided to rip out one of the side seams because it was gaping and lumpy and it was annoying me every single time I looked at it. There may or may not be a few ends that I have not bothered to weave in on the inside, but I worry not, nor do I care, and nor will anyone with any self-respect care to ask me about it.

Seriously, don't ask.

I have a first-world problem when it comes to taking photos of my finished projects. In the past, I would have used a tripod and whichever digital camera I had available at the time. These days, I prefer the quality of photos I've been getting from my smart phone. The thing is: it's really hard to take photos of yourself in your finished projects with your cell phone, particularly if you want to make use of natural light. I've tried balancing it on a stack of books, on stairs, on windowsills, on shelves... all sorts of things. And what's more, I find it really strange that, no matter what height I set it at, I always seem to end up with two feet of empty space above my head that I have to crop out. And what's more: even with the timer set and enough light, I can never seem to get it focused very well if I'm more than a foot from the phone.

And before you ask: I refuse to buy a selfie-stick. Don't bother: I'm not doing it.

I have decided to go out and get a special doo-hickey that will attach to my tripod to try to fix this problem, but I cheaped out and bought it online, thinking I'd have it before this weekend. Turns out, I was a bit too optimistic with Amazon this time. Therefore, here I am using the good ol' selfie arm:

The problem with this method is that it's really difficult to get an accurate view of what the full garment looks like while worn. Laid out on the floor, it looks great:

Here's one of me using that weird shelf-like space on the stairs to get a shot:

And here's me using my go-go-gadget arm to try to get the full length in view. I am pessimistic about it, as you can see:

In the end, it is a darn good shirt with some lumpy side seams that you can't see unless I point them out to you (which I will not) and with sleeves that are a tad short for me, but I can live with. I may try to get some better photos once the doo-hickey arrives, but we'll see how I feel about it when it comes.

In the meantime, I decided to go and wind some yarn in the stash which has enchanted me ever since I bought it. It's one of those rare yarns that photograph exactly as they are in real life, and this one is so, so beautiful:

I'm gearing up for another week of uphill battles, but I'm glad I have this project to pull out every so often and take a break with. Just looking at it gives me cause to take a deep breath and lose myself for a while, and I'll take those moments whenever I can get them these days.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Drama Llama

You mustn't live so lightly,
Spin your stories, tell your tales,
Let them dance across the oceans
And set the wind upon your sails.
For every truth found on your travels
And in the pits of your despair,
Is a shout into forever
Of "I existed, and I cared."
-- Erin Hanson,
I had a week full of drama this week. It seems to have followed me into the weekend, and I've found myself working through issues here and there. I'm glad we have a holiday on Monday. It will be nice to have one more day to try to catch up on some peace.

I sat down on the couch with a sigh on Friday, thinking all about the drama surrounding my days. My eyes wandered over to some of my craft tools that are littered around the coffee table. I cocked my head, an idea taking hold in my brain. I got up and did a bit of digging in my supplies and found some copper wire, some pliers, and some wire cutters. A little while later, I had this:

And then I dug out some pencil roving, a bit of black merino roving, and some alpaca fleece. I had to do some extra digging to find my felting needles, but slowly, surely, my idea took shape:

Friday night, it looked like this:

I was gone for most of the day on Saturday, but when I woke up this morning, I had to deal with a little more drama that got sent my way. Then, I picked up my little friend and gave him a head, a face, and a few tendrils on his face. For a while, he looked a bit emo:

But after I gave him a little hair cut and did a bit more felting, I finished him. Say hello to my Drama Llama:

We must admire his rump. I'm quite proud of how well I was able to shape his figure:

And he's grown out of his poetic emo phase... he's just adorably scruffy in the face now:

I think he'll live on my desk for a while. I think he'll give me a smile, no matter what kind of day I have.

In the meantime, I went down to Victoria with the hubby yesterday. He had a few appointments and so I took the opportunity to do some visiting with a friend. It took care of some dramatic calls and emails while I waited. Luckily, I had some treats to keep me grounded:

And there was a rabbit in the garden to keep me company:

After a good chat and an even better lunch, we ended up at the Yellow Wolf Pow Wow. It was a perfect day: bright, but cool and comfortable. It was a nice day to take in all of the beautiful clothing the dancers were wearing. This is the kind of drama I like:

After that, we had a lovely walk in woods, which is just the antidote my soul needed:

And a wander through here didn't hurt either:

I have finished my Over-and-Over Top, but the weather has been too hot and I've been too grumpy to put it on and model it. I am very happy with it, though. I'm going to wait until I'm in a better frame of mind to share it. It deserves to be worn by someone in a good mood.

Until then, I'm going to go do some well-earned daydreams. I'm going to cuddle up to these and have a nice walk through my imagination with them. Happy Sunday!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lumpy Bumpy Knitting and a Pretty Plate

I was over in Victoria last weekend visiting a friend, which meant I was a bit too tired to sit down and write a blogpost last weekend. It's funny how having one fewer day in the weekend can really tire you out. Sunday afternoon rolled around and I realized I wasn't going to be all that coherent if I tried to write, which is a shame because I had plenty of stuff to share.

I was hoping to get a bunch of knitting done while I was there. There is an optional ferry you can take to cut some of the driving time down, and I was trying hard to catch it at least on the way there to take advantage of some spare time on the needles. Unfortunately, I missed it both ways. At least the traffic wasn't too bad, but it meant I couldn't get any further with my project.

Luckily, the weekend was not without some good yarn stuff. We had a chance to stop in at Knotty By Nature, which is a shop I had only previously known about from the local fibre festivals on the Island. It's a shop that specializes in spinning and weaving, which is really inspiring for a mostly-knitter like me. As you approach the shop, the telephone poles and signs are all sweetly yarn-bombed, and as soon as you walk in, a yarnie knows they are in a place of kindred spirits:

I was fascinated by this tapestry hanging on the wall. I've daydreamed a bit about making tapestries in the past, and this just gave me a bit more fodder for the imagination:

And this piece made me think of some buttons in my stash that need a home... perhaps sewn onto a long runner or shawl or something:

Later on, we stopped in at a vintage and handmade market, which is always guaranteed to be an interesting time. I get so excited when I see tents like these springing up in the fields:

I was so, so tempted to bring this cool record player home, but then I'd have to start collecting vinyl records. That's a whole world I'm not sure I can commit to:

Instead, I came home with this sweet little plate:

I thought it was perfect for my daily treat. I mean, if you're going to eat cookies, you should eat them on a beautiful plate:

And if you're going to eat them on a fancy plate, you should make the whole thing as fancy as possible. I like to pretend it's being served to me by a butler on the lawn at Downton Abbey... because why not?

Meanwhile, I am still plodding along with my top. I sewed up the sides last weekend and knitted some cuffs onto the sleeves, and I am now knitting the second half of the neckline:

While I'm nearing the finish line with this project, I'm still experiencing some trips and falls along the way. I popped one of the seams while I was testing out the stretchiness of the fabric, which involved some emergency stitching to close the side. I may yet use my sewing machine to sew a basting stitch along each side seam, just to ensure that there are no gaps to reveal the seam underneath.  I'm also a little unhappy with how it's turning out because I'm noticing all the little errors in it that make it sloppy and untidy. My knitting gauge changed between knitting one side and the other: probably the result of worrying about running out of yarn on the second side. One side is longer because of it. I've still managed to seam both sides to match the colour changes, but the uneven gauge means that the seams are lumpy and uneven:

And since one side is longer than the other, I've realized that one side of the neckline is going to be higher. On one hand, that might be ok, because then I could make the shorter side the front, but on the other hand, since it's going to be a boatneck top, I'm not sure how it will sit on my shoulders. I guess I won't know the result until I actually finish. I think this is why I much prefer to knit things in one piece... but I bet it won't be the last time I knit a garment in pieces:

Meanwhile, I've been working on this project long enough to cast longing glances at the rest of my stash, wondering when I can be free to dive in there and do something new. Since I saw those tapestries last week, I'm itching to experiment with one... something that places around with different needles sizes and different knitting gauges...

... because goodness knows I've had enough experience messing around with gauge lately.

In the meantime, I think now's a good time to have a few handfuls of blueberries from the garden. It's a bumper crop this year, and we've been getting nearly a full punnet each day:

This is particularly amazing when I think about what the shrubs looked like only a few months ago:

There are so many that we have had to freeze a few punnets. I really must get better at eating them. That's a goal I think I could really work on.

Happy Sunday, all!