Saturday, March 31, 2012



bones and antlers

moon snail shells and sea urchin test

bits and bobs


the recent gift of a black-tailed deer skull from my brother-in-law got me thinking about the various nature ephemera i've accumulated over the years. i suppose my home is turning into a natural history museum of sorts, a mixture of items i've found over many years, pieces that have been gifted to me, and items that aren't actual nature remnants but just look like they are (such as a couple pieces by artist william van orden), or are part of the coastal landscape just the same (wooden and glass fishing floats). while i love to wander in search of treasures on the seashore or in the woods, i try to be very selective about the few i bring home, and leave most things be. these pieces give me a feeling of connection to the natural world at home, something to break up all the technology that surrounds us these days, the need for 'new' and 'shiny' that gets pushed at us all the time. and to be honest, i just like them. do you have any collections of your own?

(you can click on any photo to go through to flickr and see a bit more info about each.)


i am headed out this afternoon to a rally regarding the proposed northern gateway pipeline and oil tankers on the bc coast. here's hoping the heavy clouds looming above are kind to us. hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

sometimes you gotta just run with it...

leatherback sea turtle

leatherback sea turtle

sea turtle pre-occupation continues. in this case sometimes an idea just comes to you, and you have to go with it, for better or worse. i hope this one was for the better.

i was thinking about other types of sea turtles on the coast, and kept coming back to the curious-looking leatherback turtle. in a fit of inspiration, i remembered a very well-loved handbag my mother had finally let go of, passing it on to me to see if i could do anything with the leather. it seemed to me it was the perfect material with which to construct a leatherback's carapace, not to mention in the perfect inky blue shade (leatherbacks range from grey to dark blue to black). not to mention the back side of the leather was a splotchy grey/blue, which worked well for the turtles belly. 's i couldn't help but set to work right away, other projects and to-do piles forgotten (sorry!).

he has a slightly dark countenance from the green sea turtle, perhaps because of his colour but also there is a look to his face. i like it though - i hope you do too? still i think he seems to have a pretty congenial personality on the whole. he is ready to plunge into the ocean-y depths with his hydrodynamic ridged back. i hope he appreciates it - my hand is still protesting a bit from sewing that leather! this turtle is now looking for a new home


but back to the to-do list. thanks to those of you keeping me busy! and really to all of you who stop by this space to visit - i do appreciate it. some other life changes might be happening around here, but it's too early to say anything about any of them (ETA - just so we're all clear, I am not having a baby or anything like that). here's hoping your week is going well!


also, please stop over at sew delicious for a little interview with me today. thanks Roslyn!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ack! the cuteness

the wobblies

black sheep

oh hi, i'm frickin' adorable

brand new

first drink

what a face

a little tuesday morning overflow of springtime cute for you. much like last year, spring isn't complete without a visit to my parents' little homestead to see the new lambs born each year. in this case i was lucky enough to be there to see one come into the world (well okay, i was inside the house for the actual event, but came out minutes after). there are five lambs in all this year - two black twins that are already a couple weeks old and sturdy and capable; a distinctly wobbly set of white twins that are nearly a week old (they had a bit of rough entry into the world, but getting stronger every day); and lastly a very mottled little girl all on her own. the mother of the wobbly boys, Jumper, is very protective, stamping her foot in warning when you get too close and making a sound that i suspect is the closest thing i think a sheep can do to growling. i do hope she realized i wasn't aiming to harm her babies, just wanting to get a few snaps of their sweet faces. certainly the other ewes were not too concerned about the crew of humans checking them out.

on this day my niece and all three of my nephews were there to check out the lambs as well, although often they seem more interested in bringing fir branches over to the pair of alpacas to nibble on. who can blame them, those guys are pretty entertaining too. but me? i can't help but be entranced by those soft little faces, and the way they kick up their heels as they bounce around the field in the sunshine.


thank you for the response to the sea turtle! he was snapped up so quickly i may make another green one soon. actually, truth be told, there is another sea turtle in the works already - a different kind. in a fit of inspiration last night i realized i had the perfect materials for it and couldn't help but get to work right away, never mind all the other things in progress or on the 'list'. stay tuned, and hope you're having a good week!


this is a really powerful read.

Monday, March 26, 2012


green sea turtle

green sea turtle

green sea turtle

i spent most of my life assuming there were no sea turtles along the bc coast. sea turtles were for tropical seas, and i had hoped to see one when i went to oahu a few years ago, to no luck. but here? it just never occurred to me, and i certainly didn't know of anyone who had ever seen one in these eastern north pacific waters. they are rarely mentioned in reference books of the coast. but recently i have started seeing sad stories about sea turtles found on the beach this past year, poor fellows washed ashore who even when care is provided have not pulled through. this could be a cycle of ocean currents, further signs of global warming, or just a curious coincidence of these amazing creatures finding an unfortunate end. you can make your own determinations about what you think is happening, but nonetheless my awareness has been raised about sea turtles in our coastal waters, and not just those in distress that make the news. there are several species that might be found off the coast all the way up to alaska, including the green sea turtle.

with the precariousness of coastal turtles in my mind, but also their beauty and grace as they swim through the sea, i crafted this little green turtle out of linens. the underside is all a pale green linen that i solar dyed last summer; i thought the gently mottled fabric would be good for his uneven skin tone. and i couldn't resist adding a few patches to his shell, a bit of bright green amongst all the others that make him a very spring-thinking fellow. his sturdy flippers are ready to guide him through the sea with powerful strokes, exploring the far corners of the ocean. would you like to swim along with him?

Sunday, March 25, 2012



My patches need patches


Someday, turtle

Dye jar

Strawberry amaranth muffins

...a collection of instagram photos from the last few days.
>>> some antlers in progress for a custom order.
>>> my patches need patches. time to do some more stitching on my patched jeans.
>>> a wobbly little lamb. yesterday afternoon was spent at my folks' homestead, checking out the new lambs (including one born while we there!). i have a bunch more photos to share in the next couple days.
>>> a sea turtle in progress.
>>> a dye jar a-brewing. i rinsed it out today and am waiting for the fabric to dry so it can see if it turned out like i hoped.
>>> strawberry amaranth muffins made this morning, based on the millet muffins from super natural everyday. basically i didn't have millet so i used amaranth. i didn't have plain yogurt so i used strawberry. and then i threw in some chopped frozen strawberries. a total success.


our big plans for today had been to go clamming with some friends. A decided to spoil the fun by double-checking the shellfish openings and discovered the whole area got closed on friday for red  tide. i kid - obviously we definitely don't want to be harvesting clams if there is a risk of shellfish poisoning. but it's still disappointing, and a bit surprising in how early in the season it is. without getting into a discussion about global warming, i do wonder if our mild winter had something to do with it, the water warming up earlier in the year and encouraging the algae to bloom.

so instead we are at home right now, waiting for a quick visit from my sister and kids on their back home on the south tip of the island. it's a beautiful day again, so i'm sure i'll drag A out to the beach this afternoon when the tide is low, just to wander, not to pick clams. hope you are enjoying some sunshine this weekend too.


a few more things:
• i know i shared a wrap recipe earlier this week, but i also made these roasted chickpea fajitas  and they are so so good. they will be made again very soon.
• did you see Abby's shark? so awesome.
• if you have half an hour to spare, i encourage you to watch stand up for great bear, a beautiful film about a stand-up paddler travelling the proposed oil tanker route through the great bear rainforest.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

snow-kissed morning...

a fine dusting

walking into the sun

snow on salal

early light

snow on seaweed

snow-kissed morning 

i've walked this trail countless times. across the quiet parking lot and onto the gravel pathway that winds through ragged trees and lush salal bushes. down over roots and rocks, out onto the open stretch of sand. the sound of waves hitting the shore is like a giant exhalation from inside my chest. i've walked this route in sun, rain and wind, but until this particular morning, not with snow. granted, the snow was on its way out, the clouds that had brought it moving out over the sea and the sun poking its way through the trees. but still it was gently settled on the path, my truck, the leaves and seaweed as i passed. catching the sun in spots, or still sleeping quietly in the frozen shade. my breath rose in a steamy cloud as my boots left wet prints in the sand. my last morning on the west coast before heading home again, and i wanted to savour this last walk along this curve of beach until next time. now revisiting it in this photos, i wish i was still there.

i feel like this week has turned into a total wash. not sure where the time has gone. my focus is anywhere but here. my to-do pile isn't getting any shorter. an inch of stitching takes forever, my sketchbook stays closed. i'm not sure how to get back into my creative space.

the weekend promises a bit more outdoor escape. i plan to visit the newborn lambs on my folks' homestead, watch them frolic in the mud with my nephews close behind. and sunday may be about exploring another stretch of sand, digging for clams in the muck to bring home for dinner. good springtime activities. what are you up to?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

getting back to it...

cumulus reflected

incoming tide

two at the beach

a few shots from the weekend, a deep breath taken by the western sea. there was sideways rain, thundering hail, even a fresh dusting of snow our last morning. but in between there was also a good dose of vitamin d, beautiful sunshine to warm your bones, and possibly the most vibrant rainbow i have ever seen. there was also a bit of exploring, lots of good food and drink, and so much laughter.

as usual though, i'm having trouble getting back into it this week, so far feeling quite unfocused as the to-do list looms over me. it took all my energy last night to wrap up a few packages to head out in the post today. tonight though, i must get back to work.


a few things:
• i made these spicy lentil wraps last night for dinner - so tasty! (not to mention healthy after many goodies eaten on the weekend)
• it wasn't a total indulge fest though - i made this beet hummus to take along and it was awesome.
• have you seen the pieces Margie is working on right now? i'm in awe of this one especially.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

working on the handmade wardrobe...

feather skirt

feather stitch skirt

another tank dress

i know. more things for me. apparently i'm feeling a little self-indulgent lately. i promise i won't make a habit of it.

at top is a skirt you've seen a few glimpses of along the way. my attempt at something in the style of alabama chanin. i made a simple a-line skirt using another  skirt as a template, cut out in both purple jersey fabrics. as you can the back is longer - i was hoping the raised front would make it easier for tramping around through the woods and such. i sewed each of them separately and then put one inside the other so the seams lined up and faced 'in' to each other. then i created a simple foldover waist with just the dark purple. i top stitched along all the seams with a fagoting stitch to hold the two skirts together and give a decorative edge. for the feather stitching, i wasn't nearly so efficient as the folks at alabama. basically i made three different feathers that i cut out of some thin cardboard, and then traced them onto the fabric into a random pattern. i did this in stages, usually tracing, stitching, and cutting a few feathers at a time, rather than doing each stage all at once. yeah, not efficient at all. i had thought about doing the whole skirt, but in the end decided to just do a few scattered feathers drifting down into the 'pile' that circles the hem. i also trimmed the hem so that the dark purple is about a 1/4" shorter. all in all i like how it turned out, and i have infinite appreciation for the incredible handwork that goes into an alabama chanin piece.

the second dress is another tank from wiksten. i hadn't really planned on making another so soon, but this fabric jumped out at me the other day and i thought it would be perfect. you can see another shot of here - it is blue and grey with a few gold dots here and there, just my kind of colour scheme. i think the leftovers might be perfect for some whale bellies too, don't you think?


erin made a comment on flickr the other day saying "good grief march" and i thought it was perfect. after a mild winter, this month has been quite a lion. after the wild storm of monday (in some area possibly the biggest in many years, did extensive damage, some folks still without power), things are snarling again today, including swirling sleet. here's hoping all the trees that might come down already did on monday. still, it's the kind of wind that makes me tense up a bit every time a large gust comes through, and cling tighter to my mug of tea as i watch the rain/snow thicken up and blow sideways.


i may get another post in before then, but things will probably be a bit quiet around here until early next week. i am heading out tomorrow afternoon on a little weekend escape. quite likely i'll be posting snaps over at instagram if you want to see what i'm up to. wishing you all a great few days and hope to see you next week!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

shop update / home

Giant Pacific Octopus

Velella velella

storm front

home again today. thankfully we have power on here, but it's still out at work, along with many other homes. my job revolves around the computer and printer, so there's nothing i can do if there's no juice coming down the line. it's a bit of a pain, as there is work to do, and i am taking friday off to go away this weekend, so i certainly don't need more days off to whittle down my paycheque, but there's not much to be done when mother nature has her way. i will make the best of today that i can.

the octopus above is in the shop this morning. i finally made another one, and somehow they always come out a bit surly. not sure if that is the general disposition of octopuses, but the ones i make seem to take on that expression. i like him anyway, even if he seems to be giving me the stink eye looking over his curling arms. he has a wonderful patchwork of mottled hand dyed linen covering his head, reds and burgundies and a hint of pink and orange here and there.

joining the octopus is a set of three by-the-wind sailors, or velella velella jellyfish. i wrote about these vibrant little creatures over a year ago, and in my current invertebrate kick i had to make more for the shop. they are quirky, adrift on the high seas at the mercy of the winds and currents, their stiff little 'sail' catching the breeze, but i find them quite fascinating the more i read about them. maybe soon i will make one of their larger but equally electric blue cousins, the man o' war. there are so many fascinating jellyfish, the sea nettle may have just been the tip of the iceberg. but a similar statement could be made about most of the amazing creatures that ply the deep blue depths, not to mention on shore, and in the air. well, at least i'll never run out of critters to make!

it sounds like it may blow again today, and tomorrow. a storm force kind of week. hope you're staying warm wherever you are.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Nearly there with my new skirt

So many herring eggs

Tiny tentacles

Power's out, wild and wet outside. Stitching in bed sounds good.


i joined instagram late last week. i totally didn't need another distraction, but it's become instantly addicting. if you're over there, you can find me @fogandswell. or you may have noticed some of the pictures popping up over on flickr and fb. i was hoping that in using it i would be inspired to share more in progress and behind the scenes shots of my work, and so far it seems to be working. i will never give up my big camera, but occasionally setting up shots, downloading them, editing, uploading to the interwebs, and then blogging, makes me less likely to share some on-the-fly moments which seems unfortunate sometimes. so i'll be using instagram to supplement once in a while.

above are a few recent favourites - the first and second also show my new skirt, done now. i will share proper pics soon (well sort of proper, for some reason it's been hard to photograph properly). the second shot also shows the pile up of herring eggs on some of the beaches around here. a seagull's feast. the middle shot is some work in progress - actually there will be a couple items in the shop tomorrow, if i can get proper photos on this very dark day.

and speaking of this very dark day...the power went off just as i was waking up this morning. you can see above that with no power and a wild wet storm blustering outside, i elected to stay in bed and stitch by the scant grey light coming in the window. A came home from work after a couple hours when it became clear there would be no power there either. we had just decided to go out and see the storm when the lights came back on. nonetheless, we headed out in the truck, stopped for a warm drink to top up our travel mugs along the way, and drove out to the strait to see the forces of nature. branches and the occasional tree, not to mention tossed up driftwood, littered the roads but there were lots of folks with the same idea. the sun started poking through here and there, but every time we ventured from the warmth of the truck we were nearly bowled over by the wind and drenching showers kept moving through. so today we just watched.


thanks for all your suggestions about that curious thing in saturday's post. i've got some feelers out with other folks too. i would say it's definitely not halosaccion or other seaweed bleached by the sun - i'm leaning more toward the swim bladder idea. but i'll let you know if i figure it out.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

spring cycles...

so many eggs

rainbow scales


washed ashore


as mentioned last sunday when we visited the sea lions, they are here for the herring that are spawning in the strait right now. when A and i went to the beach the other evening to get some shots of the new creature we also took a walk along the shore and got a good look at what is feeding the sea lions, not to mention the seals, the eagles, the gulls and other birds.

the tide was high, leaving just a sliver of beach to be explored, but there was still lots to see. the water was murky as it lapped at the beach, so different from its usual crystal clear-ness. every little bit of seaweed washed ashore was covered in tiny little eggs, the herring roe. while pacific herring don't die after spawning, like salmon do, there were still a number of fish along the waterline, spent after their reproductive work perhaps.

the hazy early evening sun shone over a nearly windless beach scene where we walked, marvelling at all the life around us. the birds lay heavy on the surface of the water or wheeled high overhead, enjoying the feasting to be done. off shore, occasional barks could be heard and flippers spotted lazily poking up as sea lions fished for an evening meal. a few commercial fishing boats sat out in the sound, finishing up the day's harvest. parents brought their children down to the beach to spot the wildlife participating in this spring cycle. i like coming to the beach year round and seeing the different cycles that the sea and its creatures go through, the subtle rhythms much like that on land, yet often the major parts are hidden from us as they take place below the surface. we often only get little hints here and there that these cycles are occurring as we look across the vast stretch of water, finding a few clues washed up with the tide. i love to take the time, where i can, to try and understand the rhythms of this magical place, the sea, even if there is so much i may never know.

>>> speaking of not knowing, can anyone identify what i'm holding in the last shot? there were a few of these stuck to rocks and feathers at the beach, shimmery white oblong bladders of sorts, seemingly filled with air. i presume they are related to the herring or the spawning somehow, but i haven't found mention of them in my searches just yet. let me know if you know, or i'll update this if i figure it out first. thanks and hope you are having a great saturday so far!


perhaps in honour of those magical beasts, listen to sea lion woman by feist, and then watch nina play around with her version of the original song