Sunday, January 27, 2013

sunday meander...

easy cardigan

easy cardigan

I'm sure the last thing you want to hear is more complaining, but I'm feeling a little disgruntled today. I hope you'll bear with me. We have a friend visiting from out of town and he and AK have headed up to the mountain today to enjoy the snow. But I got left at home this morning, due to a relapse in a back injury that has left me not moving much. This is day three and I'm still waiting for some signs of improvement.

Nonetheless, I can sit well enough, and so if I can organize myself to get all my materials within reach, I have a good excuse to stay put and work on some projects. There is a green sea turtle started, and I'm hoping to cut out a second so that I might have two finished by next weekend. On stitching breaks I am knitting a row or two on AK's sorely neglected (but 3/4 done!) socks, and I've got a hand stitched skirt in progress too. If I can't be sliding down sparkling snow with mountain peaks surrounding me, at least I can be cozy on the couch with stitching in my hands and a little sun filtering gently through the window behind me.

Last week I finally finished off another project that has been a long time coming. Sometime in the fall I started knitting on a cardigan in squishy Cascade Eco Wool. Halfway through I began to develop doubts about it, but I pushed on. When it was finished I knew as soon as I pulled it on that it was not going to work. Even the ever-diplomatic man had to admit that the shape was just not fitting me properly. Nuts. Knowing I could so easily tuck it in a corner and avoid it, I decided to suck it up and frog it immediately, then start again. Thankfully, the second go turned out much better and I've added another cozy handknit cardigan to the slowly growing collection. This is a simple shape inspired by Aidez, which I have knit before, along with a vest variation. What can I say, the shape works for me. This version though was a considerable departure from the original pattern, really only using the general raglan idea and some of the shaping. This cardigan is knit in the round from the bottom up, and joined with the sleeves (also in the round) to finish the yoke, with the cabled collar wrapping around to the back (there are also cables up each arm, which is hard to see in the photos). I then knit pockets directly onto the front, so that when finished, I managed to make it so I only had to sew in the ends and close up the small opening under each arm. There is certainly a place for seams, but I think the fit on this came out very well without. I also did only 3/4 sleeves, partially because I end up folding up my cuffs often through the general tasks of my day, and partially because I was unsure if I would have enough yarn. I used two balls of Eco Wool, with only a small portion left over, so there definitely wouldn't have been enough for full length sleeves.

What are you up to this weekend? Are you knitting or making anything you want to share? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

new turtle...

olive ridley sea turtle

olive ridley sea turtle

A little variation on the green sea turtle took shape this week. Some fabrics came out of the dye pot in wonderful olive tones (my apologies, I've completely forgotten what the dye bath was made from!) and an Olive Ridley turtle seemed completely appropriate. This little fellow is entirely hand stitched, and all fabrics (cottons, linen, silk) used are natural dyed by me. Feels like a 'complete' sort of piece, when I think of how much my own two hands put into this turtle. If you like the feel of it too, he will be in the shop later today.


>>>some thoughts on making...
I have talked a lot recently about getting back to making pieces for the shop more regularly, producing more, and more often. But I've come to realize that may not necessarily happen, and as there have been some recent inquiries I thought you deserved a little bit of an explanation.

Please understand first off that I very much appreciate all you folks who are interested in my work, whether you purchase something or just share your words of encouragement. It is very rewarding to make something with your own hands that others respond to so positively. But.

When I first got into selling things online, I quickly got into a rhythm of working all day at my job and then coming home and sewing much of the evenings and weekends. After a time, I was pretty intent on keeping interest on my making, and started to feel guilty if I wasn't stitching in my free time, or stitching or crafting on something personal rather than for the shop. I am a pretty slow maker, so I was trying to make up for that by making any chance I got. It probably doesn't help that I have pretty heavily ingrained beliefs that I always need to be "productive" and should also be doing something "useful". But we won't get into the psychology behind that for just now. Anyway, then came the forced respite of my broken wrist last year. I tried to get back into it once I healed, but a number of events and distractions kept me from ever getting back to my old pace again. Moving in the fall, and the subsequent disorganization / re-organization of my craft materials (and my life) made it easy to let days slip by without picking up a needle. I let go of the 'guilt', letting this break become a new sort of rhythm that eased my sore fingers and tired back.

I don't handle stress well. Not at all. I read something recently about people with my particular date of birth (and yes, please give such generalizations a healthy bucketful of salt) - that we often reach a place in our careers where we are comfortable, and make no further attempts to progress or be challenged, because don't want to deal with the potential stress. That definitely struck a chord with me, and might be at least partially true. And whether I should just buck up and learn how to handle a bit more stress, there is no denying that it doesn't suit me particularly well. Stress affects me mentally and physically (and there is no denying two jobs and a side hobby that all require lots of sitting and repetitive motion are not good for the body). My previous making habits were just not sustainable. So I've come to accept that free time can be a good thing, and sometimes a very necessary thing. Time to go for a long walk, time to escape for a weekend, time to just spend with friends and family. And yes, even time to occasionally just do nothing.

For now anyway, I have decided I can only do what I can do. Pieces will continue to trickle into the shop, and while I appreciate your interest I have decided to not accept custom orders for at least the next little while. Your interest in my work is very heartwarming to me, so thank you for sticking around even if I am not the most productive of makers. Wishing you a very happy weekend and I see the sun is making a lazy attempt to peer through the grey clouds. Time to get out for a walk, I think.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

a little tangent...

Roasted chickpea & carrot fajitas - yum #vegan

Carrots & chickpeas spiced with chili/cumin/chipotle and roasted, topped with cucumber, (homemade) guacamole, sprouts and jalapeno salsa.

Sundried tomato/spinach/walnut pesto pasta. Tastes much much better than it photographs. #vegan

Pasta with sundried tomato, spinach & walnut pesto.

Rolling up sweet potato, Swiss chard & black bean enchiladas #vegan

Sweet potato, swiss chard & black bean enchiladas with a little Daiya cheese, later topped with a tomato/jalapeno/almond milk sauce and baked.

Fresh rolls with coconut lime chili quinoa #vegan

Coconut/lime/chili/garlic quinoa, with carrots, cucumber, sprouts, snap peas & avocado, wrapped in rice paper rolls

Whole wheat pizza dough, lemon artichoke pesto, kale, mushrooms, crumbled nut blend #vegan

Whole wheat pizza dough, topped with artichoke lemon pesto, kale, mushrooms and crumbled nut/nutritional yeast blend.

Chickpea mushroom potstickers and spicy sautéed cabbage with walnuts #vegan

Chickpea mushroom potstickers and spicy sautéed cabbage with walnuts.

Can't take credit for this recipe...Jamie Oliver's roasted carrot & avocado salad is always awesome. #vegan

Jamie Oliver's roasted carrot & avocado salad. Has been a long time favourite.

Bell pepper & jalapeño quinoa, beans, chipotle cauliflower, pepper jack Daiya, avocado #vegan

Bell pepper & jalapeno quinoa, red beans, chipotle cauliflower, avocado & pepper jack Daiya in a multigrain wrap.

Alfredo with kale & mushrooms, over homemade fusilli #vegan

Vegan alfredo sauce with kale & mushrooms, over homemade fusilli pasta (yay new pasta maker!).


I don't do many posts about food. Not because I don't love food - we eat quite well around here generally, and I think I'm pretty good in the kitchen. But I don't feel qualified to share any recipes (I am terrible at following recipes, and most things I come up with myself evolve with each making as measuring is also not a key skill of mine). But as I am currently doing 30 days of vegan eating, I've been trying to make more of an effort to document the tasty things I'm feeding us with (AK is not doing vegan alongside me, but has been eating most of the vegan dinners I've made) over on instagram. So far I think it's going quite well, and it has also pushed me to expand my repertoire a bit, as it is all too easy to get in a "what's for dinner?" rut. I've been mostly staying away from processed vegan foods (although I do like Field Roast sausages), and I'm not a big fan of tofu. After 19 days I am starting to run dry on inspiration, but persevering nonetheless. Tonight there are mushrooms stuffed with a mixture of roasted red peppers, walnuts, pepitas and a few other things roasting in the oven.

If you're vegan or vegetarian, what are your favourite recipes? Actually, whatever you love to eat, I'd love to hear it. I'm always looking for tasty meal ideas. And if you're looking for recipe ideas, I also have some inspiration going over on Pinterest.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

snow bird...

White tailed Ptarmigan

All this talk about birds, and I thought perhaps it was time to stitch a new one up. I have been thinking about ptarmigans for awhile, and their snowy winter plumage appeals to the starkness and neutral palette I often appreciate at this time of year. This white tailed ptarmigan came together slowly, as most things seem to do these days, but I'm quite pleased with the results. It is entirely hand stitched in linen and quilting cotton that has the faintest botanical print, with fabric wrapped wire feet for an appropriately fluffy appearance.

I have only seen a real white-tailed ptarmigan, this smallest of the grouse family, once. A bewildered little white creature hunkered down in the snow in the middle of a ski hill as boarders and skiers raced around it, most none the wiser. It was barely visible but for its dark eyes and beak, a perfectly camouflaged animal for winters on rugged alpine peaks.

This little bird has flown into the shop.


I am so enamoured by the Avett Brothers lately. This song especially is a favourite.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

making / gifting...

fox and wolf


blue braids


seed n' cables

You've likely decided by now that I don't craft much anymore. This is partly true - I seem to have a very tenuous grasp on inspiration and motivation these days. But I'm working on it: a little winter bird has taken shape this past week and should be ready for the shop this weekend, once I have a chance to photograph it in some proper light. I am glad we are over the hump, so to speak, and returning to longer days, but so far daylight is a rare commodity. I would even venture that the sun didn't come up at all yesterday, a swirling wet squall of a day. Hopefully there will be more pieces taking shape soon too.

But! Back to the point of this post. There was some crafting in those dark December days, right before that gift-centric holiday. The last minute scurrying and bustling that makes one's fingers ache, when family members request handmade gifts without always recognizing that these things take time. But as I find it hard to say to no to a family member who actually, really, wants a handmade gift, a few things came together just in time for the big day. Two quick wooly toques for the nephews, spruced up with knitted ears for fox (for the one who likes orange) and wolf (for the littlest one who is less decided about favourite colours). A cabled toque in superwash for my other sister, the one who can't be trusted with proper washing of woolens (she knows it's true!).

And an experiment of sorts; prototypes, if you will. Inspired by other braided yarn necklaces and woven pieces I have seen online, I decided to make a few of my own to give. These pieces are woven in varying strands of cotton and wool, to add texture and dimension. Lastly I bound the blue one with a piece of navy leather, and the purple with a strip of naturally dyed silk. I may try playing around with these a bit more, trying naturally dyed yarn, longer and fewer strands, and so on. I'd definitely like to make one for myself but who knows, something may even end up in the shop. :)

Did you do any holiday gift crafting this past year?

Friday, January 04, 2013

oceanside dining...


eye contact

mid meal


Back to the point on Tuesday, a breath of fresh air to bring in the new year. The birds were waiting for me. The tide was out when I stepped out of the truck, and I clambered straight out across the rocks with my eye on a great blue heron perched just off the waterline. But to my left another dark shape caught my attention - an immature bald eagle waiting in the driftwood, standing over the carcass of the seal I spotted the other day. I weighed my options - who could I sneak up on first? The heron seemed settled, and I know from experience they can stand for seemingly infinite periods, waiting for a fish to come within the grasp of that long sharp beak. The eagle though, was a flight risk, literally.

Decided, I tucked back along the high tide line, out of sight of the bird of prey for the moment. I stepped from rock to rock, trying to avoid any loud noises that would alert him to my approach. As I came around the curve of the shoreline I spotted his dark head poking up from the driftwood. I ducked down a bit, navigating through the jumble of washed up logs and breakwater boulders until there was nowhere left to hide and I was about 40 feet off. The eagle knew I was there, although it wasn't inclined to acknowledge me in any way. I snapped a few shots. Scooched to the next boulder. Snapped a few more. Other folks out for their New Year's constitutional were noting my progress and politely gave me and the eagle a wide berth. I checked on the heron, down at the water's edge. A woman was ambling toward it, her camera held up to shoot photos. She continued her steady forward progress until the heron upset and flew off down the coast, and I wrinkled my nose. Yes, it could easily be argued she and I were doing the exact same thing. But her clumsy approach had me feeling unjustly superior, and I was disappointed my chance at shooting the heron was gone.

The eagle, though, was unperturbed. I slipped to the next rock, then the next. It let out a squawk and ruffled its feathers, and then surprised me by actually hopping along the driftwood toward me. The dead seal was between us, although much closer to him, and the bird was ready for another meal.  The eagle flapped his wings for balance as it hopped from log to log and then to its prize. I wedged myself between two rocks, a large boulder serving half as blind and half as tripod, and suddenly there was only 20 feet between us. The bird set to work, tearing at the blubber and looking up every few bites to check for other eagles. For the most part it didn't seem concerned with me. After it ate, the eagle perched on a log and wiped his beak clean.

A little old lady came determinedly along the beach, spotting me only as she came up just beside me. It took her a moment to follow my pointing to the feathered beast right in front of us. She smiled, listened politely as I spouted some eagle trivia, and then proceeded on her route along the high tide line. The eagle waited as she closed in, then spread its impressive wingspan and swooped off and away. Content, I unfolded from my own perch and headed down the beach for a walk.