Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Snow Musings, and a Resolution

I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened. -― Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Home again for the holidays... days of spending time at my parents' house, watching game shows and entertaining visitors, eating way more food and worrying far less than I normally do, and just taking each moment as it comes. I've wanted to feel this comfort for a while, and now that it's here, the days have slowed to a gentle stroll... not dull and boring, but slow enough to savour and breathe. I'm grateful for it.

We arrived last week, on a bright, windy day, when the flight we were on was nearly re-routed back to Regina, and by the time we landed, I wasn't sure who was more grateful, me or my stomach. My parents picked us up in their van, which has The Carpenters or Rod Stewart playing on repeat, and we were brought to the house, which always has a warm meal ready for us.

Is that civilized or what?

Since then, we've enjoyed a few days of wandering around: out to the pool for a swim on a few mornings, or outside for walks in the cold, fresh air. Yeah, it's cold, no shock there, but why dwell on it? It's winter in Winnipeg, and it is as it should be.

I like lens flare. I think it duplicates what it feels like to be blinded by the sun on a snowy day:

I think I might have figured out why the snow was annoying me so much a couple of weeks ago. I think it's because I had places to go, things to do. I didn't want to respect it for the force of nature it actually is. I suppose that's what comes of living in a region where snow is so infrequent.

And yet here, in my hometown of Winnipeg, where the snow is ubiquitous as stripes on a zebra, the snow fell last night. It fell and fell and fell, and by the morning, we had over a foot of snow to get out and shovel (which was welcome exercise after the piles of food I ate the day before). The roads were blocked, the highways closed, the Boxing Day shoppers thwarted (for the moment). 

Here, the snow falls, and I look out and I say, "I think I'll stay home."

Luckily, I never have trouble finding something to do. I'm still working away on this blanket. In truth, I'm getting bored with it, but I'm determined to keep going with it. I try to work one side per day, but that's getting a bit difficult to do as it grows. I'm interested to see what I end up with, and I'm even considering experimenting with felting it when I'm done:

I finished my little embroidery project, and brought it home to show my mom. I'm pretty proud of it, and I'm inspired to try out all sorts of things now with my leftover yarn ends. I'm thinking about sewing this one onto a cushion:

In fact, I have so many ideas that I've started to write a to-do list for when I get back to our own house. I've got a few more days off before I have to go back to work, and I'm really looking forward to working on some things I've been putting off for a while. So far, I've got:

  • clean and service sewing machine
  • spin and ply alpaca
  • re-organize jewlery box
That doesn't look like much, but I know what I'm like: I'll start one thing and get distracted by another project for sure. I figure that, if I don't make too many plans, I won't be disappointed if I don't get them all done.

How's that for a modern New Year's Resolution?

Truth be told, I do actually have a resolution for myself: to be as kind to myself as I can, and in turn try to recognize when others are suffering from their own worries, and empathize as best as I can. It's sort of a tall order, because I come from a lifetime of discipline-by-berating, but right now, in this moment, it's not a habit I want to continue. Maybe it's because I've been home with my father, whose health is still not great... maybe I'm realizing how precious each moment is.

I don't want to spend so much time being impatient and angry anymore.

I think I'll go knit for a while... Happy Holidays to you all.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sheep, Gnomes, Needles, and Cake

It was a funny old week this week, full of strange circumstances and an explosion of creative projects. It didn't start out all the promising. In a strange flip of the universe, I got stuck at home on Monday due to the snow.

Let me be clear: I have not had a snow day since I was eight years old and living in Winnipeg. WINNIPEG. The land of snow and ice and occasional six foot snow drifts. And here? We got hit with a few inches of wet snow, and I am stuck in my friggin' parking lot, which has an exit that is sloped at a 45 degree angle. So. Irritating.

I did eventually manage to get the car out, but then I drove it down the road to the gas station, put some fuel in it, and then promptly charged back up the hill and parked it on the road. I walked back into the house, fired up my laptop, and worked from home that day.

That afternoon, I opened my freezer and nearly lost my toes to a package of bacon that fell out. Given my broken foot experience last summer, that was a hazard I was not willing to live with.. So I pulled out some stuff and made something with it to make room.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my oven made for me: a rhubarb cake to go with coffee. No, I'm not going to do the whole song. I don't think I have enough ingredients.

I think I overdid it with the cinnamon on top, but, as with most things, it's the inside the counts. It's full of all the nice flecks of cinnamon and brown sugar and good things that make a cake good. I reduced the sugar in it, and I'm wondering if that was a good idea because the rhubarb was still eye-squint tart, but with another mouthful of cake, it wasn't that bad.

All things are bearable with a mouthful of cake, I think.

That night, I sat down and taught myself how to needle felt. I used a kit that I bought a while back from this Etsy shop. There's nothing like poking yourself multiple times with a felting needle to improve your mood... or at least improve your productivity.

He started out kind of scraggly and scrawny.

And then he started to fill out.

And then I really got the hang of it and gave him some shape.

The hubby suggested ears. That made him adorable.

But it was the flower I put on his butt that just made him unbearably cute.

The next day, we had to help shovel and push our neighbour's car out. Oy... island winter.

The week carried on and filled itself with lots of challenging situations that inspired me to come home and comfort myself by crafting the heck out of each evening. I stitched and stuffed and felted and sewed. I finished this little gnome in a couple of evenings. I used this pattern to make him. His name is Olaf and he is awesome. His hat made him quite difficult to photograph (that is 90% hat in that photo), but he cheered me up immensely:

After such an upside-down week, I was looking forward to attending a local artisan Christmas market on Saturday. I had signed up for a couple of workshops that were taking place at the same venue, and I was so determined to get there that I made sure I parked the car in a spot where I knew I could for sure get out in case the snow came down again. I woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night and peered out the window to see what the roads looked like. I woke up two hours earlier than I had planned to and got up to get my things ready, eat breakfast, and watch the clock until it was time to leave.

It didn't disappoint. One of the workshops I attended was a freestyle embroidery class. I have been thinking about embroidering something with some of the leftover yarn scraps I've been gathering up, but I just haven't been able to get my thoughts in order for it. This class seemed like just the thing.

There were six of us in the class, and each and every one of us was excited to be there. We all had a paper bag placed in front of us and inside each of them was an embroidery hoop with some fabric and a pattern drawn on it:

It was a lovely class - truly freestyle, in that there were no steps to follow, just some inspiration and encouragement to try stitches and play with colours. And I was so happy to be with the others in the class: it was amazing to be around people who were all brave enough to dive in and give it a go. We were all smiling throughout the whole workshop, and at the end, we put all of our pieces together and the teacher went through each and talked about what she liked about each of them. We all beamed with the praise, and then we all skipped away with our unfinished works, feeling accomplished and happy. That is what I call a successful class:

I got home and carried on with it into the evening:

And here's what it looked like this afternoon. The green thread in the leaves and stems is some leftover laceweight from a shawl I made a couple of years ago. I love how the colours are coming up in this piece. What a neat way to see the possibilities in a ball of yarn:

My last day of work is tomorrow, and then we're off to Winnipeg to spend the holidays with my family. I am so looking forward to seeing them and getting some rest and relaxation. I feel grateful to be able to go home to them and enjoy their company. We've never been big on presents and shopping this time of year. It sounds corny, but the greatest gift I could have is to be with them right now.

I just have to make sure we can get the car to the airport. Better go move the car now...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Snowy Days, Cottage Pie, and Mr. Bond

Necessity is the mother of invention, it is true, but its father is creativity, and knowledge is the midwife. -- Jonathan Schattke, scientist
Well, would ya look at that.

We've lived on Vancouver Island for just over three years, and this is the first year that we've had an actual dump of snow. I hoped it wouldn't come. I find it really inconvenient and awkward when it snows here, mainly because it's that wet, heavy, slippery, icy, can't-get-out-of-the-parking space kind of snow that shifts and melts and turns the sidewalk into a skating rink

That's the long way of me saying that I hate it when it snows here.

That aside, I suppose it's good weather for playing in the kitchen. I made a "cottage pie" today. I put that in quotes because there's no actual beef in it, and I substituted sweet potato for the mashed potato. I used some textured soy protein to replace the beef, and used a recipe for miso gravy to give it some flavour. It would be vegetarian if it wasn't for the beef broth I added, and it would be vegan if it wasn't for the milk and butter I added to the mash. I am neither vegetarian nor vegan, but I find it a very convenient way to eat foods low in fat, high in fibre, and with a decent amount of protein. I think I added too much liquid because it ended up bubbling through the mashed potatoes:

But for all that, it went into the oven looking good and came out of the oven tasting great, so that, as they say, is all that matters:

In the meantime, I've been trying to find something to make with a skein of Fleece Artist that I was trying to make into a top in my last post. I thought it was going alright, but I picked up the project one day and just couldn't make myself like it. I think the colours contrast too much with each other to make a wearable garment... at least a garment I want to wear. No matter what I did, I was going to end up with distracting splotches. So, with a big sigh, I ripped it all out and decided to try Elizabeth Zimmermann's Ten Stitch Blanket, which is a pattern which starts out with a square that is ten stitches wide, and then spirals on itself around and around until you get to the size you want...

...except, somewhere along the way, ten stitches turned into thirteen. I'm not sure how that happened, but at least I have not added any more random stitches for the last few turns. I keep thinking that I might still be able to make this into a garment at some point, but if it ends up being a blanket, I would not be unhappy about that result at all:

I would have made it much farther with that project if it weren't for our company Christmas party, which took place on Friday evening. It had a James Bond theme, and last Sunday evening, I opened my closet and pulled out a dress that I thought I'd never have the guts to wear: a black, form fitting dress with a slit up the leg and a low back. A very Bond girl dress, and this was the only opportunity I could ever see myself wearing it. The thing was, I wasn't very comfortable with having so much of my back exposed, especially with the pending snow in the forecast, so I decided that a drapey scarf would be just the thing. I cast on for Sachiko Uemura's scarf pattern, A Different Breeze on Monday evening. I knit like a mad person all week, and by Thursday night, I soaked the finished product and gave it some light blocking:

And it was exactly what I wanted. I would have modeled it with the actual dress, but it took way more engineering to get that dress on than I cared to repeat. Suffice it to say that it draped nicely across my throat:

And reached all the way to the small of my back:

To speed up the knitting, as well as to force it to lie flat against my throat, I substituted the lace stitches for plain knit stitches, and retained the twisted ones in the pattern to give it some texture:

The sad thing is that it was so chilly in the hall that I ended up wearing a wrap nearly the entire time, but at least the vision was realized... if but for a short time. I feel pretty proud of myself for being able to whip up such a nice accessory for myself in such a short period of time. Necessity really is the mother of invention.

I have just over one week of work before I take a break for the holidays. I am so looking forward to some time with my family, and then to some time to myself, not to mention the scads of knitting time that I'm craving so much. I have 1000 metres to work through for that blanket. I'm just hoping I don't get too bored with it in the meantime. And I feel a bit sorry for my blog readers, because that might be the only project I have to report on for a while. Sorry, y'all. I'll try to jazz it up for you with some baking photos or something...

Now that's a pretty good promise! It's a good thing I like  cake  cookies  you guys enough to  go eat all the cookies  slave away in the kitchen. I shall endeavour to find some interesting baking recipe the sake of your entertainment. It shall view it as yet another necessity... a duty... a service to my faithful blog friends...

Onwards I march to the kitchen. Have a good week.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Chocolate and Handspun Wool: A Study in Time

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking. -- William B. Sprague 
And just like that, it feels like winter. Granted, we don't get the same kind of winter that I grew up with back in Winnipeg, but all of a sudden, there is a definite nip in the air, and I'm wearing my knits with regularity just to stay warm and comfortable in my frigid office. I am so grateful for all of my scarves and cowls and fingerless mitts right now: they're the only thing that help me start my workday. By noon, the heat in the building seems to be normal, so I shed my layers throughout, but I maintain that it's better to shed layers than wish you had them on.

I finished my cowl made with my merino handspun early last week. I soaked it in some Eucalan wool wash, and then added a healthy dollop of my hair conditioner because it was feeling a bit scratchy. I think it's helped, but I could have done a better job of rinsing it. Right now, it smells so much like my hair that I feel like I'm standing behind myself in line when I put it on, but I'm hoping that sensation will fade along with the scent from the conditioner. I am so pleased with the result:

I still have just over a ball left of this batch of handspun, and I think I might make it into some mittens so that I can admire the yarn even more. I haven't made a set of mittens since I moved to Vancouver Island, but if the office stays as cold as it has been, it's going to have to be a necessity...

But I digress.

I went back to spinning a some of my alpaca silk, but I got a bit frustrated with it because I couldn't seem to get a good rhythm going, so I've put it aside for now to try to make something out of this huge skein of Fleece Artist BFL that I've had for a while now:

I've pulled out at least a dozen patterns that I thought might work with this yarn. The trouble is that I'm really not sure how all the colours with work in a garment. I can't help but think that I need a simple lace pattern to break up the colours, but so far, I'm not sure what that's going to be. I settled on Pam Allen's Modern Lace Henley, as I've admired it for a while, and I thought it was simple enough to break up the pooling colours, but lacy enough to make the most of my limited yardage.

I started out with the idea that was going to alternate balls of yarn each row to try to prevent the pooling. That lasted all of two rows, and then it turned into a tangled, horrible mess. The yarn seemed to revolt against me as I tried to pull it apart. "How dare you try to control me!" it seemed to say.

How dare I indeed.

I cast on again and started knitting the lower band again. It's starting to pool now, and I am simultaneously enchanted and concerned: enchanted by the colours I am seeing, and concerned that this thing is going to turn into a big, splotchy mess. I changed my mind about the pattern and went looking for a wavy lace pattern that might work best with the undulating pools that I'm seeing. I ripped  out stitches again and again to try to make the best use of my current stitch count, but I've since abandoned that idea and gone back to the Henley pattern. I'm glad I started knitting it from the bottom up in the round: if I end up really hating it as I go, I could always bail out and turn it into a big rainbow-y cowl.

Because, of course, I need more scarves and cowls. See above for my comments about my office temperature.

As I was placing the stitches back onto my needles after my last ripping out session, I recalled someone admiring one of my handknit sweaters one day. She asked me, "How do you do that?"

"Do what?" I said.

"Make sweaters with no mistakes in them?"

I think I might have snorted. I can make a sweater yes, but I am EXPERT at putting the stitches back on my needles after ripping out hours and hours of work. If you're the sort of person who makes things by hand, I think it means that you think about time differently than a lot of other people do. You don't churn out perfect things, and you don't wait around for the perfect time to make something. And you don't feel like your time has been wasted when you have to deal with a mistake. You might shrug your shoulders and carry on, or you might pull it apart and start over, but you always know that, whatever time you are going to put into this thing, you've elected to use it for creating something, and that time is always time well spent.

Speaking of: I decided I'd make some chocolate truffles to give away as little Christmas gifts. Chocolate itself has its own schedule. It's both slow and lightning fast in the same time. You have to be patient while melting your chocolate, but if you give it 5 seconds longer than you think, it will seize up into a horrible mess in your bowl. And then, even when you get it right, it sets in no time if you dilly dally for too long.

I will admit: I would find it hard to mess up a whole batch of this stuff. Chocolate isn't something you can rip back and start over with... but at least the mistakes are delicious.

I had prepared an extra pan in case my first one wasn't enough to take all the chocolate ganache I had prepared, but it all fit into one after all. I'd spent enough time carefully buttering and lining the pan that it seemed a waste to pull it off and clean it without having made something, so I whipped up a batch of lemon slices and used the pan for that instead:

I'm not sure if that's an example of striking when the iron is hot or making it hot by striking, but in the end, the cake was warm and my tea was hot and I made them both myself, and that's all that really matters.

And here I am talking about cake again. Hmm... oh well...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Inspiration Mondays: Hitting the Reset Button

Since he won't bring toys, I will share my bike with him, and I will teach him how to ride it. I will teach him addition and subtraction. My little sister will be collecting butterflies and fireflies for him. We can all play together. We will give him a family, and he will be our brother. -- Alex
I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself over the past few days. Then I saw this video, and it was an automatic reset button for me. I needed that.

Today, I am inspired by people of all ages who look upon others and see no dividing lines: just another human being worthy of kindness and compassion, without cynicism or suspicion, "because of where they're from or how they look or how they pray."

Thanks, Alex. Back to business.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Roses, Muffins, and Merino

If you look over the years, the styles have changed - the clothes, the hair, the production, the approach to the songs. The icing to the cake has changed flavors. But if you really look at the cake itself, it's really the same. --John Oates
It was my birthday on Thursday. It sort of just came and went... I'm not sure if I'm having some kind of life crisis, but I was not all that interested in all of the birthday stuff this year. Perhaps it was because I felt like I was fighting some kind of cold all week. Thursday rolled in, and I went in early for a work meeting. People wished me happy birthday, the boss took me out for a nice lunch (as soon as my stomach was feeling better), and then I left early and treated myself to a facial and then a nap. No cake or anything. I was going to make myself a special treat, but it just didn't happen. But my folks sent me these beautiful flowers, which, despite having quite a few roses in it, are lasting very well. Flowers always bring a freshness to the day:

So, that was the birthday. 

Today, I was feeling more like myself, and after we came back for a walk during a break in the rain, I came home and made a batch of Applesauce Cake, this time in muffin format (because I didn't want to wait an hour for the loaf to bake). And you know, I'm pretty happy with this kind of birthday cake this year. Light and fluffy, simple and tasty. I think it's just what the doctor ordered:

Among all of this, I actually did some knitting this week. I've been working on making something with my handspun merino that I finished during this year's Tour de Fleece, but it's been surprisingly difficult. I was having a hard time finding a project that would work with the marled grey/white/black of the yarn. I started out trying to make Purl Soho's Classic Cowl, but the brioche stitch was just getting lost. I ripped that out and tried a few other stitches, until I resigned myself to making a plain 2x2 ribbed cowl.

I made it about an inch and a half in, and was terribly bored with it. After that, I just started to wing it: cabling and twisting stitches until I fell into a kind of rhythm. I am much happier with it now:

Making something from your own handspun means that finding the right project is much more meaningful. You need to really justify all that work that went into the spinning. This is what the stitches look like when they are stretched out a bit. I'm going to see if I can block it like this to show them off:

I've got Beef and Guinness stew cooking in the crock pot for dinner, along with some nice dumplings that are enjoying a nice soak on top. I'm looking forward to having a more normal week, perhaps with a better attitude to go along with it. Until then, I might enjoy a cuppa and another one of those wee muffins and hang out with my knitting for the rest of the evening. Tea and cakes are great company in the midst of a grey and grumpy week. Thank goodness for that.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Now, With Other People's Knitting

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. --Charles Spurgeon
So, about the knitting and stuff. It sorta hasn't been working out for me recently. The intentions where there, but it's been a weird few weeks, and production has not been really happening for me. Perhaps this is the way of November: shorter days, with not much time to do much of anything within them.

This is not to say I haven't been busy. It's just that the stuff I've been up do has not lent themselves to much time to sit and do fiber-y things. Actually, that's not true: my problem was that I had changed from doing knitting projects to doing a spinning project. Recently, I've found myself away from the comfort of my couch and waiting around for appointments and classes and meetings in coffee shops, boardrooms, and offices... places where I don't feel all that comfortable whipping out the ol' spindle and having to explain to people what the heck I'm doing.

Luckily, this seems to be a time when other people's knitting have been the highlight of my days. On Wednesday, the day of my weekly yoga class, a friend of mine handed me these yoga socks, knitted by her mother. "Give them a try," she said. And they were great. This isn't the greatest photo of them, but they were comfy and warm on a cool, rainy day. It's strange: people keep giving me handknit socks as gifts. Maybe it's the universe trying to tell me to finally get on with knitting some for myself, but if that were true, why would people keep giving them to me? Perhaps I should not question and just enjoy the socks:

And then, there's this adorable baby snuggie, handknit by a work friend who is expecting her first. We talked a long time about getting her back into knitting, and a few refresher lessons and a few text message tips and a whole lot of YouTube videos later, she has produced this:

It's so darn cute that I wish I could get in there and wear it. And just LOOK at those buttons!

It's such a testament to the fact that, if you want something badly and you are resourceful enough, you can totally do this knitting thing. It makes me so happy to welcome someone into the Yarn Geek Club.

I had every intention of doing some knitting this weekend. It was Remembrance Day on Friday, so it was a long weekend for me. We headed down to Victoria for a short break. We were fortunate that the rain stayed away, but on Saturday, the wind really whipped up as we walked along Ogden Point. I got this shot of Fisherman's Wharf at a point where I had ducked in for shelter. It looks so sunny and peaceful, but I was actually just trying to avoid getting more leaves whipped into my face:

The water had white caps, and the helicopters that service the Island to the mainland were grounded:

But the waves were impressive:

And well, the knitting? Impressive is not the word I would use for it. I did wind some of my handspun for a project, which I have cast on for... and have subsequently ripped out. Impressive, no. Perhaps... "orderly" would be how I would describe it:

I best get on and start working on something, because I can't rely on other people to knit for my blog for much longer... unless... ahem... you'd like to volunteer... you know, leave me your comment below or whatever...

Right, I'll shut up and knit now. Have a good week!

Friday, November 11, 2016

What is Good

Hold on to what is good
even if it is
a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
even if it is
a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
even if it is
a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when
it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when
I have gone away from you. -- Nancy Wood

It's been a doozy of a week. This time last week, I did not imagine I would have felt all the things I felt in the past seven days. I suppose we never know what each day will bring, but we live in this precarious sureness that makes us feel secure. And when that is shaken, it is more than unsettling.

I don't have the knowledge or the rhetoric to speak of the details of the election in America. I just know that it was the culmination of a very, very hard campaign to watch, even from way over here in my little pocket of Canada. So much energy put into really, really hating candidates was exhausting. You can't be isolated from that. It fills the atmosphere, it enters our lives. And I won't minimize what people are feeling about it, and what is happening all around the country. I just know that I feel sad about the whole thing.

I started taking a course about six weeks ago called Mindful Self Compassion. I took it because I was tired of living my life constantly beating myself up every day, comparing myself to others, speaking critical words to myself and about others. I was tired of burning out. Tired of being injured, and tired of beating myself up about being injured. I didn't feel alive: I was just surviving. And I wanted to be alive.

I've been learning about how important it is to stop and recognize when I am suffering: when I am hurt or angry or sad. It shocked me to see how often I felt any of those things. I've been learning that this is what it means to be human. And I've been learning to be kind to myself during these times... that there is a place for fixing and problem solving, but right in this moment, I need to give myself what I need: a breath, a walk, a drink of water... and that this kindness to myself opens myself up to all sorts of possibilities later on. It is not an excuse to turn away from the world, but a way to be better for it. And I've been learning about giving and receiving compassion. It is so easy to make yourself a martyr, but there are ways to help people and to affect change without tearing yourself apart.

A breath for you, and a breath for me.

Leonard Cohen died yesterday. Those of us who are drawn to poets and singers and writers... those people who speak the words we are constantly grasping for... we feel grief. Losing a person who brings us the thrill of bringing us to the places we long to go hurts. And it would be easy to see this as just another blow to the goodness in the world.

A breath for you, and a breath for me.

Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada. Six years ago (could it be so long ago now?) I wrote a post on Remembrance Day that remains the most read post I ever wrote on this blog. I was thinking about it as I went for a run this morning... about why people fight in wars, what it means to me. And I thought about my grandfather, and how, even among all of the chaos and the hatred and the genocide, someone took a breath and extended kindness to someone she didn't know and saved his life.

Even amongst the greatest hatred, there is goodness.

A breath for you, and a breath for me.

At 11:00am, I will take two minutes to stop and to reflect and to breathe. We will not solve the world's problems today, but I think I will continue to believe that, if I can just keep lifting the goodness up, things will be alright. Schools of dolphins have been known to hold the weakest amongst them up to the surface of the water to help them breathe. I think now is a good time to do the same. And, to quote my own words:
Remember the power of kindness, understanding, and compassion. It doesn't just save lives. It makes life possible.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Milk Bottle and a Barn

How quietly,
   and not with any assignment from us,
or even a small hint 
   of understanding,
      everything that needs to be done
         is done. 
--from Luna, by Mary Oliver
I overheard someone at the pool yesterday saying that we've had rain twenty-six days out of thirty-one this month. I don't know if that's correct, but it definitely has been a wet October. Any thoughts of drought during the summer are now, appropriately, quenched. Wet: that is us.

Luckily, yesterday was one out of the thirty-one days when the rain actually stopped. I had driven down to meet a friend at a cafe in Shawnigan Lake, where the food was delicious, and the coffee was rich. While waiting for our order, I noticed these signs. I knew these were my people:

Around the corner from from us were these sweet little felted creations for sale. Another indicator that I was among like-minded people. Seeing these made me feel like I should pull out the needle-felting kit I have squirreled away somewhere and actually give it a go... just as soon as I get all my other projects on the "to make list" finished:

About halfway through our visit, the sun broke through the clouds, and we looked at each other and declared that we should get outside. We found a trail by the lake, and just as all lakeside trails do, it did not disappoint:

We found ourselves on the road back to the cafe when we saw a sign that read, "Vintage Shop" with an arrow pointing to the right towards a side road. Well, why not, we said to each other, and up a small hill and down the road a bit, we found this place, Shawnigan Vintage Barn:

We wandered in, and well, it was another cave of treasures, waiting to be explored. It was full of lovely things, very nicely displayed, and included everything from furniture to kitchen gadgets to linens to... well all kinds of cool old stuff. And with the fire crackling in the wood stove, it was not hard to spend time wandering around:

As is always the case, I went in hoping to find something (this time, a blue pyrex bowl to complete one of my sets), but I came out with something totally unrelated. This time, it was this glass bottle, which I spied on one of the higher shelves. I think it's just a pretty as all of those pretty, trendy S'well bottles I keep seeing everywhere, and probably even more useful:

When I picked it up, I was immediately sold by the fact that it had a nice, tight, usable lid. I knew for sure I could use it as a water bottle on my desk, or to keep milk fresh in the fridge... or whatever. Lids that work are wonderful things:

I think it might part of a line of milk bottles from a company called Egizia in Italy, except it says "Made in Portugal" on the bottom. I haven't been able to find any other bottles online with polka dots, so I don't know for sure. I just know it's a charming little find that made my day.

Today was another busy day in preparation of another busy week, but I did find time to finally take some photos of my finished Icterine. In my last blog post, I was sure I was headed for a bit of a disaster because I needed to fix the bind off for the last few stitches. I thought I'd need to use yarn from another skein, but when I cut the button off, I decided I wasn't going to do that. Instead, I decided to use the last inch and half of the tail yarn and do a little sewing and weaving, and well, I'm glad to say it worked:

It turned out to be a pretty decent size:

And I am still so in love with the cables:

They remind me of the aspen leaves I saw on my walk today. The undulating shapes are so satisfying:

I have another couple of busy days ahead, but I'm trying not to get too obsessed with trying to organize and plan every single second. Instead, I spent some time in the kitchen making some good food to fuel me through it all: a batch of Greek lemon soup, a batch of butternut squash soup, a roast chicken for dinner, and, in an effort to use up some of the applesauce I made, a loaf of this Whole Wheat Applesauce Cake. I'm happy to report it was a success: surprisingly light and fluffy, and perfect with a cup of tea after a walk:

So, here I face another busy week, but I'm trying to have faith that just as Mary Oliver says in her poem, all that needs to get done, will get done... whether I force things into submission or not.

And with that, I think I'll have another cuppa...