Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hot Days, With Knitting and Napping

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
It is so stinking hot today that we holed ourselves up in the house for most of the day to hide from the heat. Geez, summer really is not my favourite season... I hate the feeling of an electric fan on my skin, but we needed it on to keep the air moving in the house, so I often find myself paradoxically putting a blanket on to keep the air off me. Meanwhile, Seymour demonstrated how to best conserve energy:


Outside in the garden, our messy and wild-looking strawberry patch has suddenly started producing a bunch of fruit. We usually get one or two berries a day out of this lot, but we've been picking cupfuls over the last day or so. It's so lovely to have a freshly-picked strawberry. There is truly nothing like it:


Our blueberry shrubs are positively drooping with fruit. I'm hoping everything will ripen before we have to move. I would be so sad to miss all these lovely berries this year. Luckily, I had the wit last year to buy a couple of new blueberry shrubs, which are currently sitting in pots to be transported to our new home. Perhaps we won't have to wait too long to have shrubs like these again:


We've also been busy digging out a few transplants to take along with us. I've got a few strawberries, some lemon balm, some mint, and a bit of sage and rosemary, not to mention my unbelievable poinsettia which has survived four years with me and continues to bloom heartily throughout the year. It's a hopeful site on the deck these days:


I'm making really good progress on my cotton lace top. I won't say that it's exactly flying off the needles, but I'm really glad I decided to convert the written instructions into a chart. It's been much easier to work more intuitively with the pattern. I'm hoping that I'll make it up to divide for the sleeves this week:


I've been finding it really difficult to really capture the colour of this yarn. It's sort of a deep raspberryish purple... a tad darker than what I have here. It really is quite mesmerizing:


I attended a creating lettering workshop on Friday evening. To be honest, the class itself wasn't great and I didn't feel like I learned a lot. I spent the greater part of the class daydreaming about the chocolate bar I was going to buy after class, but it was interesting meeting the people there. We started off going around the group to introduce ourselves and to share a bit about why we were there. I was struck by how many of the group shared that they had all gone through some type of burnout, mostly job-related, and that coming back to some kind of creativity was part of their healing process. About half of the group expressed this, and while I didn't talk about my own difficult work experiences, it was so sad for me. Why are there so many people that go through this? And why do we lose touch with our creative sides when we are in the midst of it?

I do feel like I've come a long way since this time last year. When I go back to read my posts from last year, I notice how resigned and tired I seem in all of them. I'm in a very different world now, away from the stress and emotion I was in before. Last week, I realized how long it had been since I'd said, "I'm so tired," because these days, I rarely am.

What a difference a year makes. I wonder what the rest of the year will bring?

Have a great week.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Waiting, With Caterpillars and Cake

Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is "timing"
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.
― Fulton J. Sheen
It's been unseasonably cool around here. I'm actually ok with it. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you'll know that I usually find the summer really overwhelming. The cool weather means good things for me, namely:
  • The ability to get a good night's sleep.
  • The ability to bake cakes.
This is excellent news, as I am able to both bake a cake and eat it without being grumpy. This is the best result for all people who need to deal with me on a daily basis. It also supports my goal to work through the stuff in the cupboards before we move. Behold: Orange Semolina Cake with Bay Leaf and Lemon Balm Syrup. This is much better than the idea I had to try to work through the chickpeas and tuna in there. I'll save that for next week:


Life pre-move and pre-current house sale is kinda tedious at times. We were banished for part of the morning today for the landlord's realtor to show the house. Luckily, the rain forecast for today did not materialize, so we wandered down to the wander to drink coffee and eat apples in the sunshine:
                                 

Seymour got busy lazing in the grass:


I became fascinated by a caterpillar in the grass, which I eventually "rescued" and put into a tree:


I'm really looking forward to getting out of this limbo and getting on with moving into our new place. We haven't even started packing yet because we don't have a confirmed moving date yet. If someone could get busy and make me some kind of teleporter that would just move all our stuff with a flick of a switch, that'd be great. I'll even bake you a cake. I won't even put tuna in it.

I signed up for a Creative Lettering class this Friday. It feels like a long time since I attended any workshops, so I was pretty happy to find out about this one. What I didn't realize was that it would come with some pre-class homework. So far, I'm supposed to notice lettering that I like around me, and I'm also supposed to play around with strokes and squiggles. I wish all my homework in my life was like this:


I've also spent some time thinking about my next yarn project. I was all geared up to make another home decor piece... maybe a wall-hanging or a cushion or a throw. The pending move has me all excited to decorate.

And then, I decided I'd make myself a top. Heh... I'm a terrible project manager.

I dug around in the stash and came across these skeins of mercerized cotton which I'd forgotten about. I sat and wound one skein into a ball by hand one evening. I don't do that very often, and I found it quite tedious. I pulled out my ball-winder the next day and said, "Right, this should only take a few minutes," and then spent an hour fighting with one of the skeins tangling up on itself. The offending ball is in the back of the photo. I'm hoping this is not a bad omen:


The pattern I'm using has a lace motif, but it's all written out with no charts. I'm usually pretty adaptable and can knit from either, but I was really not in the mood for trying to fight my way through the written instructions this time. I decided to convert the written instructions using Stitch Fiddle, which is the same online app I used to make the chart for a top I made a couple of years ago. It took me the better part of an hour, but it's been so worth it. I've been zinging through this repeat and, dare I say, I think I might be halfway through it next week:


Oooo, I better shut up now. I'm totally jinxing it. I think I better get dinner in order before the whole thing implodes. Have a great week!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The United Nations in Yarn Form

In trying to be perfect,
He perfected the art of anonymity,
Became imperceptible
And arrived nowhere from nowhere.
― Dejan Stojanovic

And here we are at the beginning of June again. It was an interesting week where I had to practice the art of showing up as myself while at the same time being as invisible as possible. It was a weird feeling to try to do both in one week.

I started a new job recently at a place I've been wanting to work for a long time in a totally different industry... again. I've changed industries many times in my career that you'd think I'd be used to switching around. No matter how many times I've done it, I still wonder if it's all going to be alright. I think I made the right decision when I turned up at work on my official first day and found these along with a welcome card on my desk. I got welcome hugs as well. I think this might be the best first day I've had in a long time:


I've been liking things at the new place so far: the work is manageable and I've been enjoying the people at the change of scenery. I feel like I can be myself, and I can show up as the person I like to be: a helpful, compassionate person with a strong passion for problem-solving. It feels nice.

Meanwhile, we also we had to make the house ready for the realtors to bring a photographer over to take photos so they could list our current house this week. It meant a lot more purging of things I don't need anymore and hiding away things that were cluttering up the house. That's quite the opposite feeling: trying to erase yourself and your belongings from your home to make it marketable is weird. It also makes me feel annoyed and a tiny bit bad about myself. What do you mean my personality isn't marketable? I think my stuff is pretty cute. I get it, though. People have to imagine themselves in a house before they'll buy it. I still managed to keep a few things of mine around the house... I was not totally erased. I even managed to keep Seymour off the spare bed:





The weather has been cool recently, which is quite nice because it means I sleep well and am therefore quite a bit more personable. It also means I feel like working on my projects instead of camping out in front of an electric fan. I'm almost finished my current project. It was inspired by a post I saw on Google+ about making a succulent garden in a picture frame. It reminded me of a picture from someone had given to me for Christmas a couple of years ago, and while I was thinking of that, my eyes drifted over my jar of yarn scraps... and a few weeks later, this is what I have:


It still needs a bit of work: there are a few gaps that need filling, and that green thing in the top right corner is supposed to be an aloe vera, but it insists on looking like an octopus, but I am for the most part pretty pleased with it. Most of the things in there are just experiments in making shapes with free-form crochet. It's not something I ever thought I'd take to, but it was kind of fun to try to figure out how I'd make a certain petal or leaf. Maybe I'm just feeling freer these days. It certainly helps not to be bound to the RIGHT pattern or the RIGHT yarn. There's a mixture of merino, cotton, alpaca and even cork in the frame. It's like the United Nations but in yarn form, promoting inter-fibre cooperation:


I'm really enjoying making these little decor pieces these days. I'm not sure what I'm going to move on to for the next project, but I have another idea for a wall hanging that's been stewing in my head for the last few months. Maybe now is the time to give it a go...

But first, I follow this guy's lead and have a lie down before dinner. Have a great week!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Short-Long Journey to the Fibre Festival

The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals. -- Siddharth Katragadda
I like to believe that I have a pretty good sense of direction. When I'm trying to find my way from one place to another, I can usually orient myself instinctually and know that the place I'm looking for is "somewhere in that direction," and I'm usually pretty close. And yet, my knowledge of local geography can be oddly skewed.

I have this weird concept of Vancouver Island. I feel like anything north of me is SO FAR AWAY, and that everything south of my little town is quite close and easy to get to. One of my friends invited me to go to the 100 Mile Fleece and Fibre Festival in Coombs this weekend. We were staying just outside of Parksville, which is in reality closer to me than Victoria, but is a place I rarely go because my brain keeps thinking I have to circumnavigate the globe to get to it. I packed like I was going on a six-hour journey, and then, 45 minutes later, we were right next to Rathtrevor beach near our resort:


We had a nice walk after lunch and found some neat little pockets of nature:


Complete with their own residents:


But of course, the real reason for going was to go and embed ourselves in the midst of all this:






We had an interesting discussion earlier that morning where we talked about how we had evolved as crafters. I find myself not hankering over more vast quantities of yarn to add to my already enormous stash, but really looking for skeins and colours that really speak to me. And I find myself recently just experimenting with stitches and textures rather than working with patterns. I'm not sure why this has happened: maybe it's a maturity thing, or maybe it's just having enough experience to know how to make the best use of what I already have.

Or maybe life really is just about swings and roundabouts, changes all the time.

I wasn't really planning on buying anything, but it didn't take long to be seduced by the lovelies that surrounded me. I felt a bit guilty about it since we're moving soon and I'm supposed to be purging, but I mean, what's a couple of skeins of gorgeous 50/50 merino-silk fingering weight yarn in the grand scheme of things?


And well, while we're at it, what about some handspun alpaca blend yarn? I don't normally purchase handspun, but these were just so pretty and spring-like, how could I resist?


And what about a new tool, like this lucet made from reclaimed oak? I've been avoiding making i-cords like the plague, but I think I'd enjoy making cords with this handy thingy:


And well, if someone's going to put a beautiful hand-thrown mug in front of me, it's almost pointless to resist. I'm really looking forward to gazing at this beauty as I sip my tea and coffee:


Meanwhile, in my own project world, I've been working on an experiment with textures and different media, and decided to finally do something with a ball of Habu Textiles art yarn:


Except I left it on the coffee table and someone mistook it for a new toy:


But apparently he's really, really sorry:


It's a good thing he's cute. And well, he's got pretty good taste. He also enjoys merino and cashmere yarn balls, in case you're wondering.

I'm home now after my supposed circumnavigation of the Island, and I think I'm going to go and enjoy the last of the light of the evening before I go and make myself a cup of tea in my new mug and try to untangle my art yarn. Have a great week!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

In and Out of Season

Spring cleaning the house is easy. Spring cleaning life is tough. -- Anonymous
I'm often shocked at how quickly the seasons change. All of a sudden, I'm digging out shorts and sandals to wear and I'm having to concern myself with shaving my legs and with the state of my toenails. It's not that I'm terribly vain, it's just that there are some things I feel I should not burden the world with, my hairy legs included.

We've been busy these days with such unglamourous seasonal tasks such as vacuuming the car and steam cleaning rugs and other such unglamourous moving-house tasks such as clearing out cupboards and old clothes. We've purged books and magazines, and I'm slowly going through a list of things to sort through and clear out. It's amazing how many holey socks and raggedy t-shirts I appear to be holding onto, and it's times like these where I am a teensy bit ashamed at the number of pairs of shoes I own. Still, there's nothing like moving to make you shed things you simply aren't using anymore.

This includes my own finished knitting projects. After over ten years of knitting, I guess there are some things you have far too many of. Years ago, I would never have dreamed of letting these things go, but since I only have one head, I think I can let go of any ill-fitting hats and unflattering scarves. It's a strange feeling to let them go and it's really the wrong season to be donating warm clothes, but needs must. I have a pile waiting to be cleaned right now, and as soon as they are ready, I'll walk them down to the local hospital auxiliary thrift shop and wish them well.

Don't talk me out of it. This is hard enough.

Last weekend, we made a trip over to Vancouver to interview for our Nexus passes. We'd planned the whole day away since we were sure we'd need to have lots of time to complete the interviews. We were surprised when they allowed us in early, and before we knew it, the whole thing was over in an hour. That left us the rest of the day to wander around busy Vancouver. We went straight down to the water to escape the masses of people who were out for Mother's Day:



Craving some greenery, we wandered down to Stanley Park to find some shade and some ice cream:


We stopped by Vancouver Aquarium. I was surprised at how much it had changed since I was last there. We didn't go in, but I enjoyed the new artwork outside, especially this mural:


We sat by the water for a while:


And then we made our way back to the Port of Vancouver, where we would be catching our seaplane back to the Island and where the cruise ships all dock while they are getting ready to sail away with their thousands of vacationers. Wow... they are getting bigger and bigger all the time:



It was a pretty good day, but whenever I spend time in big cities, I remember why I don't live in them anymore. I'm so used to my sleepy little town where people greet you as you walk past and where there's never a line up to wait in and never too many people in my way. We were glad to get home to our quiet little town where little Seymour had been having a fun day with the dogsitter. He was as exhausted as we were by the end of the day:


I'm thrilled to finally be able to share you a finished project, just in time for it to be too hot to wear it. Here is the Sideways Wrap by Robin Lynn, made with some yarn dyed by my friend, Tara called "The Experiment." It was a great pattern to make the most out of a skein of variegated yarn:


I absolutely adore the way this single-ply yarn shows off the colours in the skein. The stitches have such a pleasing roundness to them that just makes the colours shine:


I'm particularly enamoured by the effect of simply slipping one of the stitches makes to create this pleasing ridge. It's like a little braid all along the inner part of the edging:


Someone else seemed to like it as well - enough to be a model for me:



Well, he liked it to a point, but he had more fun rolling around on the floor with it afterward. Oh well. It's not scarf season anyway:


I have another project I'm about to start which should keep me busy for a while and will be nice whatever season I find myself in, but for now, it's barbecue season and I'm off to get some veggies ready for grilling. Have a great week!