Monday, June 27, 2011

what 'sup

oh, the stand up paddleboard (SUP) jokes never stop giving...

what 'sup

yesterday A and i headed out on a little paddleboarding adventure, our biggest one so far with these boards we've had just over a month. we took the short ferry ride to denman island and drove the winding rural roads to a parking spot on the west side of the island. a short trail through the woods led down to the beach, where the tide was slowly coming in. we then paddled our way along the shore and across to sandy island marine provincial park, locally known as tree island. the north tip of denman is linked to tree island by sand bar at low tide that can be walked across, although it seems most people still choose to boat over. A has been there many times leading kayak tours, but this was my first time visiting this little island off denman.

coming in to Tree Island

it was the perfect spot to continue to work on my SUP skills in relatively friendly waters, as a lot of the time i still feel quite wobbly and awkward, but i'm getting there. our boards are a bit shorter than the standard flatwater boards that many people use when first trying the sport, and are therefore less stable. but they are more versatile for different conditions, such as when we decide to try surfing waves on the west coast.

perfect lunch spot

tree island has long stretches of beautiful sand, and it was a great warm day to have a lazy lunch and explore the island a little bit. the sand was wonderfully soft between my toes.

tide coming in

above you can see the view back toward denman island, with the long sand bar stretching off white spit. in the distance to the left is hornby island and to the right vancouver island. perhaps someday we will skip the ferry ride and just paddle straight across from vancouver island.

Paddleboards with a view

eating lunch

we were supposed to take some friends out to try paddleboarding today, but rain set in this morning and made that a bit less appealing. i will stay inside and make sure all my recent orders are ready to ship out this week now that the postal service is headed back to work after their strike. thanks to everyone for their patience while their orders were held up.

beach flowers

after all the sun i got yesterday, this rain suddenly makes me want to eat a cozy meal for dinner and settle down with some knitting. what are you up to this week?


things i like today:
• kathryn clark's cleveland foreclosure quilt
• amanda's thoughts on time with her new babe
• grecolaborativo's plush art summer camp projects

Sunday, June 26, 2011


spanish shawl

yesterday i mentioned i was working on something a little bit strange, and here it is. leafing through my new favourite book seems to be giving me too many ideas - A is wondering if i'm planning on making everything in there. hmmm. maybe.

so what is it? this is a spanish shawl, one of the most colourful members of the nudibranch family. it's electric orange and purple colouring make it a favourite among divers here. once i spotted it in the book, my natural dyed wools and silks (from the yellow onion skins and purple cabbage, respectively) seemed too perfect for it to pass up. below you can see it alongside an actual photo of one. i have made it actual size, at just over 3" long.

spanish shawl

this little guy is all hand stitched, and i can't stop touching him (her? it? they are hermaphrodites, apparently). i've put it up in the shop, although if i think about it too long it might stay here with me. i think i feel an extra layer of love because i dyed the fabrics too, but i actually just think it's a pretty cool little creature.

and this spanish shawl definitely got me distracted from my original weekend stitching plans, but i hope to get on those soon. for now i think i'm headed to bed soon - we took a long tour on the paddleboards this afternoon, a perfect little adventure, and now i'm feeling a bit knackered. damn fresh air, always tiring me out. but i have some fun photos to share tomorrow!

hope you had a good weekend too.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

sea stars...

new sea stars

a quick pop in just to share a little half-rainbow of colour, three sea stars in a row. two were actually snapped up quickly, but the one on far right is available here. left to right is a cookie star (stitched with some of my onion-dyed fabric), an ochre star, and lastly a blood star. it has been fun to branch out from the more common ochre stars into some more unusual ones, such as the bat star i also made recently. i'm just slowly working my way through my current favourite book.

and if you want to see if i've truly lost my mind, wait till you see what i'm working on tonight. it's completely not what i was planning to stitch, but there you have it.


thank you to all who have stopped by the shop this week; it makes me so happy to send my little creatures off to good homes. and to all of you who stop by here just to visit, i'm so glad you do too. it is so nice to have such a good community of like-minded folks, even if we are sometimes half a world away from each other.

low tide...

red rock crab

with the thrill of the amazing creatures i saw last monday, i didn't get a chance to post some shots of the equally amazing, albeit not quite as rare, creatures i saw on sunday. the tide was quite low and there were as always, some treasures to be found. above is a red rock crab, about as big as my hand. i've seen lots of them while peering down into the water from boats or my paddleboard, but never found one tucked into the sand like this before. i suspect he wasn't doing all that well, as despite being known for their sharp pinch (see those big claws?) he was quite docile and even let me pick him up without protest. i moved him over into the shallows and while briefly distracted by an eagle i left him alone for a few minutes. when i came back he was gone, so i hope he moved into deeper water where he might be happier.

hermit crab

there were lots of hermit crabs exploring the beach. this one was very small.

coming in for a landing

as is my habit when i walk, i keep my ears tuned for the shrill whistles of bald eagles circling overhead. quite often they alight on big rocks along the shoreline, and i can't help playing a little game with them, seeing how close they might let me get to take photos. even with their backs to me, i know they are always perfectly aware of what i'm doing, probably chuckling in their heads at me. but they do often let me approach quite close, allowing shots like these.


as usual there were also lots of ochre stars exposed with the low tide, some strewn on the sand, others tucked together against rocks. this was a new one for me though - six arms! although most sea stars have five arms, there are occasional species with more (sun stars in particular). and ochre stars are one of many that can regrow arms if they are sheared off. in this case i supposed this guy thought he needed one extra. can you see his little crabby friend?

six-armed ochre star


today i am working on some stitching, but i'm also going to head outside for a bit and do some weeding and other maintenance around the yard. it's an overcast day, but calm with hints of sun every now and then. i'm content to hang out at home today though - A has the next two days off so here's hoping for some adventures! what are you up to this weekend?

Friday, June 24, 2011

friday flickr faves: purple haze

friday flickr faves

1. running, 2. a detail of generosity, 3. lilac cluster, 4. Purple.Cabbage, 5. detalj aliumlök / detail,, 6. Pin cushions in purple, 7. PURPLE HAZE, 8. urchins, 9. Purple Floss, 10. Purple Delight, 11. coloring - deep purple, 12. fork-crushed purple potatoes, 13. magical, 14. Pretty in pink..., 15. Silk+Wool in Dornick Twill, 16. unwrapped


wishing you all a fresh, summery weekend doing what you love: exploring, relaxing, visiting, travelling, crafting and more...or nothing at all! and if you haven't already stopped by poppytalk's here comes the sun market, you really should. there are so many talented artisans to check out (and i'm honoured to be one of them)!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the dyeing so far...

so far

while the dye pots have been mostly quiet this week (except for a hopefully fermenting indigo vat), i do have some recent dye stuff that i wanted to share. above you can see the sum total of all my dyeing to date. it feels like a lot to me in that big stack, but really it's not very much. makes me want to go dye some other stuff though. it's funny too to see my non-uniform fabric pieces, folded haphazardly in a pile. much of the silk and some others i have been using are odd-shaped scraps from a dressmaker.

dyeing with rosemary

above is a page from the dye journal, showing my recent attempt at dyeing with rosemary. i tried to follow Sonia's dyeing of the same, but of course there are so many factors and variables with dyeing that my results did not end up quite the same. i do like the wool and silk, but the cotton and linen left something to be desired and i will probably overdye with something else. i've also been advised that some pre-mordanting might be a good idea if i try again next time.

dyeing with lupines

the dyeing from the lupines came out with great results. the soft green fabrics were dyed with the (purple) flowers of the plant, and the yellow is from the (green) leaves. i definitely like how these turned out and may try again, despite learning something else while dealing with lupines: they make me very sneezy. whoops.

dyeing with yellow onion skins

and lastly is my most recent dyeing, that with yellow onion skins, and i am loving the warm, saturated orange. funny thing: despite enjoying most foods and nearly all vegetables, onions have never been on my "like" list, so are never in my house. i asked my mom if she would save some skins for me to try dyeing with, and she did me one better. she happened to come upon the produce man at the grocery store dusting off all the loose skins as he put onions out, and knowing him well, she asked if she might have them. so i ended up with a big bag of yellow skins, and another big bag of red skins which i will dye with soon. thanks mom!

things have been quiet on the stitching front this week, but busy elsewhere. i feel good after my boat trip monday, a nice paddleboard session with A on tuesday, and a solo trail bike ride through the forest yesterday, but tonight i need to get some stuff done at home. the weather is cooperating in a sense too, with cooler temps and intermittent rain. so i will stay inside and work on the list. i've got a big idea brewing though, so hopefully i will dive into that this weekend.


i'm liking today:

• regina's bird stitching
walking through the forest with annie
• abigail brown's new swans

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

[not so] wordless wednesday

harbour seal

pacific white-sided dolphins

transient orca

grizzly bears (courting pair)

black bear on the beach

bull kelp

pacific white-sided dolphin

taking a peek

transient orcas bucking the tide

black bear at low tide


because my evenings keep slipping away from me (sunshine, long daylight hours, time to get outside!), i am only getting a chance to share these photos now. on monday my good friend let me tag along on a boat tour exploring the winding passageways just north of my home. what a spectacular day we had! in no particular order, we saw 30+ pacific white-sided dolphins, dozens of eagles (including one big eaglet peering out of the nest), dozens upon dozens of seals, two black bears, two grizzly bears (my first time!), and two pods of transient orcas. man, i love this coast.

incidentally, i've started an ongoing "inspiration" album over on facebook to share some of my favourite shots that i've taken around here, to share all the wonderful sights that inspire me here on the west coast.

happy midweek!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

shop update!

just popping in for a second time today to let you know that i have updated the shop with a few new items. along with my usual use of repurposed fabrics where i can, these new pieces are starting to reflect my increasing interest in natural dyeing (some of my own, some from others).

ochre stars no.2, a new "shore fragments" piece:

ochre stars no.2 - detail

a little stitched bat star, a bit different from the ochre stars i have made before:

sneak peek

a new boro grey whale, who has a lot of purple on him too:

sneak peek

and i also put the california mussel shell in there. and please stop by poppytalk handmade starting tomorrow for their new "here comes the sun" market, which i am participating in.

okay, i'll stop with all the links. i still have to share some natural dyeing progress with you shortly, and i went for a long beach walk today to clear my head, which resulted in quite a few good pics. tomorrow i'm also lucky enough to be heading out on a boat tour with a friend of mine, so i'm hoping there will be lots more nature shots to share this week. hope you had a wonderful father's day!

(almost) summer evening...


having trouble formulating posts on some of the other things i want to share, so instead, for now, i'll just share a bit of what's going on in the yard, as we slowly squeak into something possibly, maybe, resembling summer. we'll see, it's still not all that warm here, most of the time.

mom and pop robin have been busy in the yard almost constantly now, and yesterday morning i spotted one of them out with the two kids, hopping around the grass in search of worms. the adult let the babies wander here and there, exploring, but then swooped in regularly with a mouthful of worms to share.

spent poppy

yesterday evening i spotted a strange bird through the window, mostly hidden in the branches of the cherry tree. before i could get a good look it was gone, but i suspect it may have been a male house finch. i'm hoping he will return. so i sat outside on the bare stone path for a bit, waiting, and listening to the loud and insistent chirp of a young robin hopping along the grass in search of mom, certainly big enough but seeming not quite ready to take off. and i took some photos of the plants immediately in my field of view.


the bright orange poppies from a few weeks ago are finished now, leaving curious, velvety pods like the one up there. the columbines are blooming just fine as you can see, a profuse flush. and the thyme is blooming too, delicate little pale pink blossoms.

thyme in bloom

speaking of flowers and seeds, does anyone have any good recommendations for allergies? i have been in denial but the sneezing is getting a bit out of hand. i didn't develop seasonal allergies unitl well into adulthood, so they always sort of catch me by surprise. and part of the reason i am usually in denial is because antihistamines are so ridiculously expensive these days. and i'd much rather use something a bit more natural. but i may be headed to the drugstore shortly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

currently reading...

the week is winding down, and it seemed like a good time to share some books again that i am reading these days.

currently reading

on the top of the pile is everything i want to do is illegal, by joel salatin. i borrowed it from the library and am slowly working my way through. anyone who has read michael pollan's the omnivore's dilemma might remember joel and his farm, polyvore, where he raises a variety of meat animals (cows, pigs, chickens) in a sustainable way. joel is a big believer in local food, and this book details his battles with the state of virginia and the USDA while trying to offer a local, healthy product for his customers. it's very interesting, but he has a lot of anger (not that he doesn't have a right to). i just find all that anger a bit exhausting, so it's good for me to read other things too. i'm not sure if this is because regulations are a bit different in canada, so i don't feel the same level of rile as he does, but he does give an insider's perspective on those fighting to offer a better source of food than the CAFOs that predominate the meat industry these days.

second is a book A just got for me the other day, is dyes from american native plants, by lynne richards and ronald j. tyrl. as the dye experiment continue (in the photo above you can see one of my current dye jars, from yellow onions), this book is a good resource for over 150 common plants in north america that can be used for dyeing. it also has a bit of history of natural dyeing in north america.

third in the stack isn't really a book, just the latest issue of whole living magazine. i only started reading it this year, but i truly enjoy each issue. incidentally, mav did a review of whole living over on 3191, back in january, which is actually what finally pushed me to buy an issue. she isn't wrong.

finally on the bottom of the stack is another recently gifted book, marine life of the pacific northwest. you can imagine this book from Andy Lamb and Bernard Hanby would be right up my alley, and i have spent much time already giddily pouring over its pages of colour photos. i think it's almost sensory overload for me, actually. it is way too big to be schlepping down to the shore as a field guide, and it is a bit pricey, but if you are interested in sea life from this coast i highly recommend it. i can't imagine that i would ever get tired of this book.

i will be back in this space over the weekend, hoping to share some recent dyeing and some new stuff for the shop. i am participating in poppytalk handmade's next market which starts monday, so i will let you know when stuff is up there too. hoping you all have great weekend in store!

Monday, June 13, 2011

a family trip to the beach...

bull kelp

on saturday i headed out to a beach a bit north of my home, a provincial park actually. i was meeting there with the rest of my family for an afternoon picnic and get-together. in the end all came except one brother-in-law, so it was really nice to have us all together as well as in a place many of us haven't been in years. the tide was in, so there wasn't as much beach exploring as i would have liked, but it was still fun for visiting, and watching the kids brave the cold water, and meandering along the shore.

checking out the breakwater

there is a breakwater that juts out into the sea, that i ventured onto with two of my nephews and my niece. when he reached his farthest point with me, my oldest nephew (9) announced "i'm going in! i'm doing it!" and proceeded to strip off his shirt and hand it to me, whereupon he jumped into the water. the sea stays shallow for quite a stretch there, so it was not as adventurous as one might suppose - he landed gently on the sand in waist-deep water and continued wading back to shore. silly guy.

on the breakwater

while we didn't get to study any tide pools or build any sand castles, there were lots of little shore crabs to be found, hiding under rocks. and bull kelp to pull along, and rockweed to pop- always fun things to do at the beach!

blending right in

i just walked over to the mailbox and discovered two packages waiting for me. the first was my awesome new totebag, that i won over on the bookhou blog. so excited to start using it and feeling very lucky. thanks arounna! and the second parcel was from maiwa - some new dye supplies! hopefully i will get my indigo vat started this week.

and on the natural dyeing front, there are two jars patiently working away outside on the bench, despite the (mostly) lack of sun this morning. the lupines are blooming in vast numbers along the sides of the highways these days, so i stopped on my way home from the beach on saturday and picked a bunch. I stripped the purple flowers from their stems and simmered them for a few hours, before straining the liquid into one dye jar. i also did the same with some of the leaves. i wasn't sure what to expect, but the fabrics in the blossom jar are turning a pale greenish-blue, and the fabrics in the leaf jar are a cheerful sunny yellow - a surprise indeed!

hope you had a great weekend and the week ahead is looking bright. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011


mussels for supper

the other night A made me a special dinner, bringing home a bag of mussels. there is a restaurant nearby that makes a delicious bowl of mussels in a white wine broth, served alongside matchstick fries and aioli that i dream about, but he thought he'd try and make some mussel at home instead. i think it was an excellent idea. he steamed them in a simple sauce of coconut milk with red chilis, ginger and garlic, and it was delicious. i'll definitely be asking him to make that again.

california mussel- outside

i already had mussels on the brain earlier this past week anyway, when i started constructing this mussel shell. i've stitched some mussels before, but i wanted to make a half shell that had the hollow shape of an actual washed up shell, without stuffing it. i think i've found a technique that works now, so i'm looking forward to playing with a bit more and making complete shells with two halves, not just mussels but clams and the like. this one came out pretty well though, a long california mussel just like the ones i find strewn across the sand on the west coast. this one is only 7" long, although california mussel shells can grow to about 10" (a lot bigger than those ones we were eating above!)

california mussel- inside

the other benefit of a shell half like this is showing the insides of the shell, which are often as or more pretty than the outside, shiny and smooth. this one is mainly stitched with a pale blue cotton that has the perfect amount of shimmer.


i'm liking this morning:
eva's new timekeepers
valentina's wood veneer pendant lamp