Sunday, October 31, 2010


elk falls

just a few shots from this weekend. first a walk with family out to elk falls, through the forest of massive douglas fir and cedar trees down to the viewpoint.

campbell river, above elk falls

the river above the falls has still pools here and there, but the rocks are slick and the falls so close, so it's always good to pay attention. not a place you want to lose your footing and end up in the river. peaceful amongst the trees, with the rain just starting to fall. later in the evening it came up quite strongly, with lots of rain.


this morning again dawned clear and bright, and so A and i headed out for a quick walk before another system moved in. even as we walked through the trees we could hear the wind beginning to gust through the treetops and the blue sky quickly disappeared. there were lots of mushrooms to be found everywhere we looked, but no chanterelles today. we glimpsed some mushroom hunters with buckets far off through the trees, but we don't know if they were having any more luck than us.

comox lake

home again now as the sky continues to darken and the wind picks up. another storm tonight they say, strong winds and lots more rain. unfortunate for the trick-or-treaters, but seems fitting weather for a spooky night and the ushering in of november. i think i will go make myself a cup of tea, and settle in with my stitching (on an owl - also fitting for halloween!).

(as always, more pics over on flickr.)

* borrowing a phrase from amanda.

Friday, October 29, 2010

a new toque for A...

spiral cable toque

after finishing the elk, which tested my sewing dexterity and made me wish for more hands more than a few times, i needed something mindless for a couple of nights. enter a new hat for the man. i pulled out some noro silk garden from the stash, and set to work on what i initially intended to be a simple 4x1 cable toque. but it turns out i needed something just a slight bit more than mindless, but not much more.

spiral cable toque

enter the spiral cable toque. this hat starts out as 4x1 cables, but then starts a set of double cables at three points on the hat which slowly spiral upward. i think it adds a bit of interest while still being a subtle detail. i love a good cable, but i didn't want something too busy that would compete or get lost with the natural striping of the noro, as i tend to dislike extensive patterning (cables, lace) with variegated yarn.

A has more hats than just about anyone i know, and he would be happy to have a different one for every day of the month. in the colder months he is sure to wear a toque almost every single day (and in the summer he incorporates a similar tactic with baseball caps - one would think he might be balding, but no sign of that so far). so he benefits well from a partner who likes to knit, and i suppose in turn i benefit from a partner who i know appreciates my knits. this silky hat is his first new one of this cold weather season, but i'm sure there will be more. (slight tangent - there's already been much discussion about his new blue jacket arriving soon, and which of his old hats will match it and what new hat(s) might need to be made. i'm hoping this one will work too. who knew a boy could be so concerned about colour coordination?)

i've had a couple of requests on ravelry for a pattern for this, and i think i might try and put one together. the hat has a pretty simple construction, but i think the decreases could be a little cleaner than what i worked out on the fly. will keep you updated. oh, and because i'm too lazy to include them here, full details on the hat can be found on my rav project page.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


from the bridge

i guess i shouldn't have been so quick to lament november's coming arrival. the day brightened up slightly in the afternoon allowing me time for a quick walk after work. in the waning light i tromped through the trees, my feet quiet on a thick bed of maple leaves. the creek rushed by and the steady hooting of an owl far off in the trees reminded me that halloween is just around the corner. bundled in my thick sweater i returned home with rosy cheeks and a chilly nose, my head a bit cleared. happy october to you!

holding on

arden creek

Monday, October 25, 2010

wet days...and an elk!

roosevelt elk

it's rapidly turning into november around here. i don't mean this just by what it says on the calendar, but also by what mother nature is throwing at us outside. i'll be honest and say that november is my least favourite month of the year. i enjoy the wild southeaster storms that blow through here much of the darker half of the year, and enjoying rainy days go with the territory of living on vancouver island. but there's something about november that seems to signal 30 straight days of gloom, with nary a spot of blue sky to be seen. i'm sure this isn't actually the case, but it does have a bit of reputation. today is certainly one of those days, despite it still saying october in the date book.

november's seemingly grey days may seem even more intolerable as they are the shoulder days in between seasons. the snow is only starting to appear intermittently on the mountain tops, and the ski hill won't open until mid december. with few breaks in the rain, and increasingly shorter periods of daylight, there is little chance to venture outside and explore by foot or bike through the mud. this is when my general nature to be a hermit seems encouraged by the elements outside.

hehe, elk butt

but (and a cute butt, see above), i am not the only one finding shelter for the winter. the roosevelt elk of the island tend to migrate into the forested lowlands at this time of year, to escape the coming snow and forage for food where greenery can still be found. and so i decided to make this little guy (although he might be happier in a cozy home than in the wet forest!).

this roosevelt elk is hand stitched from some donegal tweed from a reclaimed garment, with an underside of washing linen. i stuffed him with local raw wool, and then embellished him with silk noile bum (gotta love the white rear ends of elk), and cotton fleece to give him his thick neck ruff. his head is topped off with some antlers constructed from silk shantung. can we all just agree that antlers are a big pain? this is not to say they aren't interesting to make, and i'm happy with the result, but working with those little pieces definitely tests my dexterity (and my patience). i'm learning a lot more with each animal i make, about hand stitching, about body construction and materials, and an even greater appreciation for the creatures that surround me on this island.

he's in the Fog and Swell shop now.

as a footnote - and i'm not sure if i've already mentioned it before - but in my goal for reusing materials i've been given a great source for scraps of high end fabrics. years ago when my sister had her wedding dress made by a dressmaker, she discovered the woman had endless piles of scraps from the dresses and garments she made. all these little pieces of silk, satin, lace, cotton, linen and so on had no use for her. and so every once in a while my sister brings me a bag of scraps to pore through, and salvage little treasured pieces to use. i'm so happy to make use of these little pieces here and there, and you can see above that some of these pieces were used in the elk's antlers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

cooking and crafting...

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

i'm all for a crisp fall day, but there's something to be said for a day like today as well. a storm is brewing outside, and it feels dark for 3 o'clock. wisps of smoke are curling from the neighbour's chimney. here inside it is quiet as i'm all by myself for a bit, and the kitchen is warm with the oven full of autumnal treats. i'm baking some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and also roasting a butternut squash to make soup for dinner, and some yams to make sweet potato biscuits to go with the soup. i think A's picking up a movie on the way home for a cozy night in.

sea life ornaments

i've put a few new items in the Fog and Swell shop, some hanging ornaments with a bit of west coast style. i made some ochre stars and a couple of seashells, from wool and silk, respectively. i am working on some bigger pieces, but it's fun to make the small pieces in little batches. i hope to put together a few more as the holidays approach.

today i'm knitting a cozy toque for a friend, a bit of colour work in brown and aqua. seems a good task while enjoying the indoors today. what are you doing for the weekend?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

mountain high...

small lake

i woke up this morning to crisp blue skies, and knew i wanted to go to the mountains. a chest cough and stuffed nose seemed to preclude any real exertion, so i planned for a sub alpine walk instead. a half hour's drive and i was at the local ski hill, which also offers easy access to the east side of strathcona provincial park. paradise meadows is the start of trails into the remote backcountry, but also has some shorter loop trails to explore the sub alpine environment. i obviously wasn't the only one with this idea on a gorgeous october day, as the parking lot was packed. i rarely venture up to this little corner except when the hills are blanketed with white and i'm ready to strap on my snowboard, but i was happily rewarded with beautiful fall colours across the meadows. i always forget that it's here, that within such a short drive i can go from sea level to over 1,100 m (3,600 ft), without all the legwork (although there are days for that too).

paradise meadows

battleship lake

even with the sun shining bright, it was colder up in the mountains, and any spot not yet touched by the light showed a dust of frost. a skim of ice across the small lakes and creeks reminded me that winter is just around the corner, and it won't be long at all until there is snow up there and not just on the higher peaks.


i explored up the trails to battleship lake and back, wishing in fact that my chest wasn't aching, and that i'd brought more suitable hiking clothes and a snack, so that i could venture further into the alpine. but today wasn't the day for that, and that was okay.

paradise meadows

paradise meadows

on my way back i paused at a bridge to change camera lenses, and sure enough, a couple of whiskeyjacks (grey jays) came to visit. they abandoned me quickly upon realizing i had no food to share, but it always enchants me how comfortable they are moving well within reach of my hands, hoping to sneak a treat. there were other small birds flitting through the trees, and many squirrels trilling away as i moved along.



now home again with the light fading, i think it's time for another warm mug of tea, and to curl up on the couch with my stitching.

mount albert edward

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

feeling indecisive...

woven blues

back in the summer, i was working on this piece. it was enjoyable to slowly stitch the woven pieces together, an entanglement of blues. denim, linen, silk, and cotton strips pieced together with lots of thread in shades of white, grey, beige and a bit of yellow. but now, i don't know what to do with it.

woven blues

i thought of using it for the front of a long pillow (it's roughly 2.5 ft by a bit over 1 foot), or cutting it in half and making two square pillows. i could add a border to it and use it as a table mat, or hang it. or just hang it as is. i love the look of it, but i just don't know what to do with it. any suggestions?

Monday, October 11, 2010

who doesn't love a holiday monday?

i do, that's for sure. i hope all of you on the northern side of the border had a wonderful thanksgiving. we had a small get-together at our house, complete with a local chicken that i roasted (with prosciutto, sage & lemon, yum!), roasted potatoes and root veggies, gravy, aioli, pumpkin bread, squash, pumpkin pie, apple cobbler and so on... i'm sure i'm not the only one out there who is still recovering from the food coma. although i found enough room to use some of my leftover pumpkin oatmeal bread (recipe found here) and make autumnal french toast for breakfast. yum.

sun breaking through

the sun shone quite a bit yesterday, and before i got into the kitchen to start cooking i wanted to get out for a little forest wander. after two days of heavy rain, i was sure the woods would be alive with mushrooms and i wasn't wrong. we were on the hunt for chanterelles, but i found myself stopping nearly every few steps to capture some of the other fungi (fun guys?) with my camera.

peeking out from a nurse log

witch's hat

fly amanita

we did make off with a few white chanties as well, enough for a meal or two anyway. i'm tempted to head up a bit north of us soon, where i know a lot more golden chanterelles can be found. but at the same time it was just a pleasure to tramp through the mossy trails (and off trail!) and enjoy the forest at this time of year, saturated with moisture and lush and green at every turn.

black-capped chickadee

i also finished a little friend - who also enjoys flitting through the forest. the birds are getting busy around here as the weather cools down, and i've started putting some seed out for them, which put this black-capped chickadee on the brain to make. hand stitched with wool, wool felt, cotton fleece and corduroy, he's a cute cool weather friend. he is in the Fog and Swell shop now.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

wet weekend...

in progress

there's a steady rain falling outside. yesterday a southeaster swept through, and the driveway is layered with maple leaves and pine needles. it's a bit calmer now, but the wind is supposed to build again this evening. definitely a wet long weekend which will mostly be spent inside. i did get out briefly to the farmers market during a break in the rain this morning, adding to the stockpile of squash lining my windowsill (i can't help it, i always want more this time of year!), amongst a few other things. i plan to do a bit of baking this afternoon (bread and cookies), partially in preparation for the small thanksgiving potluck we are having tomorrow. i'm in the perfect mood to be cozy inside, sipping a warm mug of tea as i putter about.

in progress

at the moment, i am doing a bit of stitching on a few creatures while catching up on some tv on my laptop. my little chickadee is almost done, mainly needed some legs (poor little guy!) and a re-do of his beak, which turned out a bit crooked. the wolf too is just receiving some finishing touches. so far he has been embellished with few bits of sheep fleece here and there - does that make him a wolf in sheep's clothing?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

cantharellus and other 'shrooms...


this past weekend i was visiting my folks while A was away across the country (enjoying the fall colours in Ontario). visiting with my mom, especially at this time of year, always gives me a chance to: a) raid her garden (pumpkins, squash, kale, tomatoes, etc); b) clean out more old boxes (ugh); c) visit the sheep and alpacas; and d) snoop through closets and shelves to see what treasures my mom has been holding on to that i can procure or borrow for myself. right now in fact, i'm wearing a cotton canvas tunic that my mom made in the 70s. i also found an old Cowichan-style cardigan that she knit for herself years ago, that i hope to get lots of use out of this winter. but getting back to today's topic...


as you've probably noticed, i'm a bit mushroom crazy this fall. which is saying a lot, i'm normally kind of muchroom obsessed - perhaps i'm just giving in to it completely now. and as my mother and i were talking about mushrooms, she brought out an old Danish identification book she had. awesome. i am in love with the drawings in this worn, orange book. it belongs in a set with other books that identify plants and animals, all with these amazing illustrations.


i wish they had more books like this available now. not just because they are so pretty to look at, but also because i think they actually make identification a lot easier than actual photographs. there is just something about them that is more clear, don't you think? there is often such variation in fungi, and in other plants, that i usually find one photo to be inadequate in helping determine a species. somehow the drawings work a lot better.


i am just borrowing the book while i scan many of the pages. this is only a small selection - i am hoping to scan most of the book to have on file to save, since i can't get a copy for myself. i hope you enjoy the pictures as much as i do - and if you have any sources for old nature identification books, please share! i'd love to see more of these.