Friday, June 29, 2012

poppytalk summer colours week: blue

alert bay





capping off the week of colour - thanks for joining me as i look through some old shots and revisit moments along my journey.

start of a long weekend here in canada, although i am working a little bit on sunday (helping out with a canada day parade in fact). i'm hoping there will be some adventures here and there, and maybe even the sun will pop out to say hello. it certainly doesn't feel much like summer around here, hasn't really for more than a day or two at a time. even the resolute west coasters such as myself are getting a bit tired of the whole thing. won't you send a bit of summer our way?

anyway, off again to enjoy a bit more blue i think, an end of week walk at the shore. back tomorrow!

ETA - okay, i may not get a chance to blog tomorrow. am squeezing onto a boat tour before heading to a birthday party so my day may disappear before i know it, but hopefully instead i will have more wildlife photos to share with you soon!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

poppytalk summer colours week: red






red is my favourite colour, and yet looking through my shots i don't have a lot with red in them. guess it's not a big part of the landscape around here, all greys and blues and greens. still, i think i came up with a few good ones that i hope you'll enjoy. just one day left, and then we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming around here. i saw the owlets again last night - they are getting much bigger, with only a few bits of fluff left. and maybe there'll even be some stitching or crafting to show!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

poppytalk summer colours week: pink






it would seem my main source for summer pinks is rosy west coast sunsets, but i don't mind that at all - do you? the sun is shining on and off here today, but the rest of the week looks a bit dismal again, as we eye up the approach of july (ha, i just totally typed that as 'march' and then corrected myself, shows you how my mind is viewing this weather right now). makes me think i should head out to the beach in hopes of a sunset of some sort, but i'm also missing the owls, so we'll see who wins out.

hope your week is going well!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

poppytalk summer colours week: yellow






second day in. yellow was a bit harder. and somehow i've already posted two kayak shots - something about their bright colours against often gray backgrounds gets my camera snapping every time. and just to clarify, these are all older photos, but they were all taken in summer - i thought that was important to celebrate the season's colours properly. how are your colours going?

Monday, June 25, 2012

poppytalk summer colours week: green






having fun going through my old photos to find shots for this week with poppytalk; revisiting old places and memories. are you participating in summer colour week? if so, please leave a comment directing me to where i can check out your colour photos!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


flood flow

the rush

i had thought of a beach walk today, but then i thought about the crowds that generally accompany a beautiful sunny weekend, and i reconsidered my plans. as soon as i stepped out of my truck at the trailhead, i could hear the roar of the river, about 1/2 km distant. down the winding path through the tall trees and the river was before me, but a frothing, boiling version of what i am used to. the river is dam-controlled, which generally curbs flooding , but they are letting a lot of the snowmelt out right now while they can (ie, before the rain starts again). it was like white noise, sitting there on the rocks. i could barely hear the other people who had come to watch the flow, and it felt like i was by myself on the edge of the rush.


other things:
>> tomorrow my truck goes in for some major service that might be alarmingly expensive. unfortunately it's hardly a surprise anymore with this vehicle, but doesn't make it hurt less. might actually hurt more, since i optimistically decided to order a new camera lens last week. it arrives tomorrow, but i'm thinking it might need to get sent right back after i get that mechanic bill.
>> A returned home this evening after a week long kayak journey with friends. the trip was enjoyable but fairly uneventful...except for the part on the drive home where his roof racks failed and flew on the car - along with the two kayaks strapped to them - at 110 km/hr. jeesh. thankfully there was no one behind them and the damage to the fibreglass boats was surprisingly minor. but i still had to drive south this evening to pick up the boats (while A drove his car) so they could get them all the way home.
>> after a couple years watching from the sidelines, i think i'm going to try and take part in poppytalk's summer colour week, so stay tuned for colour-themed posts all this week. i think i'm going to go back into the archives and find some older shots that people might not have seen before.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


summer of dyeing continues

lots of puttering as usual on a saturday. above you can see some recent results out of the dye jars. the gray-greens on the left are from cherry & plum leaves mixed with a bit of iron, the middle greeny-yellows are from domestic carrot tops, and the greens on the right are from fennel. i knew when i threw the fennel into the pot that i didn't have much dye material to work with, and after a few days sitting in a jar i could see i wasn't getting much colour. so on a whim i added a little iron mordant which helped darken the colour up a little, especially on the wool. always an experiment!

other things on the go today:
>> trip to the farmers market to get some fresh veggies.
>> mordanting a bunch of other fabric for future dyeing (did some tannin pre-mordanting last night, alum acetate and alum sulfate today...again, experimenting with different ideas).
>> bread rising by the heater (which is on - hello, summer?).
>> made some pesto (some for now, some to freeze) with fresh garlic scapes and spinach from the farmers market.
>> a little weeding in the garden
>> my truck heard that i had spent money on something else last week (more on that later) and so i'm off to the mechanic shortly to see why it's making that funny noise all of a sudden. always...
>> planning to make some more of my favourite granola bars later.
>> eyeing those custom orders that i've been neglecting this week. i think after i finish them i will be making a switch in creative direction for a bit. did i mention you can still get 25% off in the shop until the end of June?
>> and speaking of creatures, you can still take home the lovely deer & owl set.

wishing you all a happy saturday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

free food...

tea bundle

jewelled fruit

sea asparagus

happy solstice - i can't believe we are there already. thanks for all the great comments on the owls - it was a very special evening. i went back tonight and though i spotted both adults they seemed quite agitated, one hoo-hooing at me when i stood looking up from the creek's gravel bar and the other hissing and bobbing at me despite being at least 100m away and high in a tree; actually i probably wouldn't even have seen it if it hadn't raised all the fuss. i left them alone (alone is a relative term though - the robins were in full assault mode). instead i admired all the snails plying the trails, and a pair of pileated woodpeckers keeping close company with a pair of red-headed sapsuckers. there are lots of rotting trees in that wood - a woodpecker's haven.

but amongst all the wildlife, there is also a lot of other 'life' to be found these days, if one has their eyes open. thanks to langdon cook i was inspired to gather some vanilla leaf to dry for tea. my sweet little nephews gifted me with a tub full of gorgeous salmonberries. and a trip to the beach had me gathering some sea asparagus to saute up for later.

are you doing any foraging these days?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

in the family way...

*** hope you're not sick of all the owl photos just yet, and if you are, well, tough. the hoot madness continues... ***

baby barred owl

baby barred owl


baby owl!

fluffy and feathered

i learned something on sunday evening: there is not just one owl in the woods near my home, there is a whole family! i headed into the forest in the early evening, knowing that was when the owl i had seen might be waking up for the night's hunting.

before i even got off pavement, the local wildlife was coming out to say hello. a robin ringing it's alarm bell (oh what would i do without the robins???) alerted me to a small hawk perched on a low branch. it took flight and disappeared in the trees before i could even reach for my camera. a few steps farther along and i was watching a turkey vulture take low, contemplative circles around a yard that borders the wood. i thought i caught a whiff of...something...but it was gone again quickly and so i took to the trail, but i whistled a bit to myself in the hopes of alerting any larger mammals that might be checking out what was interesting the vulture.

the forest is so lush and green right now, the trails narrowing significantly as the salmonberry bushes have closed in. i wound my way along, ears perked as usual for all the bird song and other sounds in the trees. partway along i heard a strange raspy whistle above but couldn't spot anything so i continued on my way. soon enough the usual ruckus of small birds let me know what was ahead and fairly quickly i spotted the barred owl perched above the creek. it had no patience that evening though, and flew off into the forest after only a moment with a chase crew of robins close behind. at the same time it dawned on me that not all the robins had left, a second owl caught flight. well, that had me bowled. i paced myself slowly along the trail, but the owl repeatedly took flight to keep me from closing the gap, but never left completely. as i crossed a small bridge it was perched over the creek and i snapped the shot in the middle above. i was amazed to watch how aggressive the small birds were that night, actually dive bombing and glancing off the head of the large owl, who weathered the blows stoically and without recourse. one can only take so much though, and before long this owl swooped off between the tree trunks and disappeared.

i was happy enough, having spotted two owls in the evening and feeling blessed of this little stretch of trees. but just because, i decided to take the loop a second time. one of the owls continued to play like a ghost through the leaves, catching the corner of my eye here and there but never coming fully into view. i almost felt i was being led along, to where the undergrowth tapers away and the maples and firs stretch high overhead, creating a wide cavern roofed by backlit leaves. again that high whistle, lilting up at the end, just a little. and then a little bit farther and there, 20 feet up a moss-covered snag, was an owlet. oh my.

it bobbed it's head up and down to get a look at me, but sat quietly as i worked my way to sit below the tree on a log. we sat, each of us, checking out the other. man, i can't even tell you. those are the moments i live for. we sat, little owl and i, for nearly half an hour, until i decided that mama and papa owl were probably keeping an eye on me too. time to leave this family alone and slip back out of the woods before darkness fell. but that hoarse whistle again. i looked a bit harder, 50ft or so farther along the trail and up into the canopy. there! a second wee owl. this one wouldn't pose much, its back to me before taking off in a clumsy sort of way and flying farther into the trees. but my little friend stayed put in its tree, and he proceeded to make the same noise, which i've tried to capture in the video below.

sorry for rambling on so, but all this nature makes me wax on a bit it seems. and if you hadn't figured out i love nature, well, you must not visit here very often. to cap off my evening, as i headed out of the woods i inadvertently flushed a half dozen turkey vultures from their perches low in the bush. the smell of something decomposing was strong, but in that twilight hour i wasn't inclined to look too hard for the carrion. fresh out of the trees, two does, a fawn, and a buck working on a handsome new set of antlers had bedded down in the middle of a field, keeping to the open as the strengthening wind muffled sounds in the forest. lastly, an eastern cottontail sat frozen at the edge of the grass. so much in one visit to what is normally my 'back-up' trail, now quickly rising to the front of my walking choices.

i headed home along the road as the light slipped away, full.

Monday, June 18, 2012

collector collaboration

Forest set

this set of forest creatures is a collaboration between Abby Glassenberg and i. both are stitched from hand dyed brown wool and vintage flour sack. the owl measures 6.5" tall, and the deer 16". these are one of a kind creatures and a collector's set made by two artists. you can read more details about this set here.

this collector's set is available for $120 plus shipping. if you would like to bring these pieces home, you can buy them right here:

Ocean Set

the ocean set of a rock crab by me and fish by Abby is available over on Abby's blog. they are constructed from cottons and linens hand dyed by me with madder (plus a few accent fabrics).

i love how the pieces for each set are complimentary, but each reflect our own style of construction. it was really neat to see another maker's style and sewing techniques.

thanks so much for following along on our collaboration!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

collaboration: forest set

wise owl


a forest pair

owl feet

hitching a ride

over the past couple months, i have been working on a collaboration with Abby Glassenberg. we had decided to make two sets of creatures - an ocean set and a forest set. we each prepared some fabrics and sent half to each other. then we each made a creature with these fabrics - me an ocean crab and Abby made a woodland deer. we then sent these creatures across the continent to each other, with the plan that we would each make a creature to pair with the other's, out of the same fabrics. Abby finished first, making a cool fish to go with my crab. and now here is my piece to go with her deer: a little owl, inspired by the ones i have been lucky enough to spot in the woods lately.

as you know, i had a bit of trouble deciding on a creature to pair with the deer. i contemplated many different ideas, but then the owls decided for me. in the end, i am very happy with how he turned out, and think he makes a good companion for the deer. see that last shot - they are ready to head out on an adventure together! i made a flying owl sometime ago, but this little perching guy is better suited to hang with his stag friend. i especially like his little feet.

working with Abby has been great fun - and a great challenge. i'm usually such a solitary sort, particularly in my work, and so i have enjoyed bouncing ideas off of someone else and seeing how another maker builds creatures. (i especially love the eyelashes on that deer - can you see them in the last photo?). thanks Abby for asking me!

if you are interested in bringing home this collector set - or the ocean set for that matter - please check back here tomorrow. i will be offering the forest pair here and Abby will offer the ocean set on her blog.


now back to mandolin practice. good thing A is away for the week, so no one needs to hear my awkward attempts at playing this pop classic. my hope is that it will be a passable version of at least the intro by the time he gets home.

and i can smell that my beer bread is ready to come out of the oven - good fuel for mandolin strumming, i do believe. happy sunday to you all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

the owls are speaking to me...

oh hello!

i see you

i ran through a lot of ideas when thinking of a forest creature to make for the second part of my collaboration with Abby, something to go along with her deer. nothing was quite working for me. i guess i needed the nature to find me, rather than the other way around.

see, i thought i was lucky when i spotted the owl on our weekend away. but just over a week later, i came home from work and knew i needed a walk, even as the rain began to quicken. it wasn't particularly cold though, and i liked the feel of the cool drops on my sandalled feet, my head tucked into my raincoat. before long i was in the woods a couple blocks from my home, away from the cars and other noises of the world. but not long into the trail, other noises caught my ear. the persistent chirp of robins, in fact, expressing their dismay about something. i knew what i was watching for immediately, having encountered the same kerfuffle on that other walk too. and there he was, perched in a tree just across a little creek.

this one was much less concerned with me than the other barred owl had been, spending most of its time focused on the forest floor below, or perhaps the water trickling past. i've formed the opinion that owls must be pretty zen, actually. if i had to listen to the incessant distress call of robins and other small birds all day long, i know i would go nuts. anyway, we spent a bit of time together, both of us ignoring the robins (one better than the other). i felt a little that maybe the owls were finding me, and not the other way around.

yesterday, i headed back into the same woods, A in tow, hoping perhaps we would find this fellow again. at first it seemed like we were out of luck, all the robins we heard seemed far too happy for any owls to be nearby. (i know, horrible me, wishing for the discomfort of robins). but then at a crossroads in the trail, i heard the telltale staccato. none of the trail options led that way, but the long trunk of a fallen fir tree stretched across the carpet of ferns and salal and we followed it in earnest. there, tucked high up in another fir was my owl. he seemed to be working on a nap (seriously, how do they ignore those robins???), so we didn't stay for long, but i was happy to know there is a new friend in the woods. if i see him again i may have to give him a name.

but if you've made your way through this long ramble, you're probably wondering what the point is, exactly. it occurred to me the owls were making my decision obvious, making their point clear with those dark, liquidy eyes. a winged strix is the perfect companion to a well-antlered stag, don't you think?

stay tuned - the beast is well in progress. how is your week going?

Sunday, June 10, 2012



in the garden




call it procrastination. lack of focus. avoidance. stubborness, really. i'm horrible that way. as soon as there is something i 'should' be working on, it becomes the last thing i am interested in. at work i generally am fine, knowing that things just need to be done, and to just do it. but in life...well, not so much. A knows this about me; he knows my little quirks so well. ask me to make something in particular - knit socks, draw a picture, work within specific confines on a project - and nine times out of 10 my wall comes up and i don't want to do it. i'll find 20 other things to work on instead, sometimes even something that is almost indistinguishable from the actual thing I should be working on. even when i want to work on the project. really, how sad is that?

Abby made an awesome fish to go along with my crab. i think they are a great set. my piece to go along with her deer? hmmm, it's not taking shape well. i can't seem to settle on a beast, and each time i try to sketch one out i just can't 'see' it. the inspiration is just out of reach, as it seems with my stitching in general these days, with my life in general these days. and so i'm the deadbeat holding up this collaboration. sorry Abby. and sorry to anyone still reading here, that i'm such a bummer lately.


one place where inspiration is flowing, in as much as it could really be called inspiration, is in the dye pot. plants and minerals are finding their way into pots and jars, releasing their colours to be soaked up by waiting fabrics. these are some recent images snapped of what's percolating, and what's coming out at the end. you can click any of the images for more details.


>>> this film looks like it will be full of inspiration.