Tuesday, May 31, 2011


just playing around a little bit, made a new desktop calendar for june (can you believe it's june already??). i hope you might enjoy it, a beachy west coast scene. click on the image to download. as always, thanks for stopping by to visit me here - i truly appreciate it and am happy for the company and new friends too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

dye job...

cedar package

hope it was a good weekend for you (and for those in the states, still continuing into today i suppose). the weather was much nicer than expected and i spent a fair bit of time outside. the sun also helped make the dye jars happy. i've been playing around with some natural dyeing this past week, and i've discovered once you start, it is very addictive. suddenly i've got a different view on every plant, contemplating the colour possibilities.


i think i mentioned, but can't find it now, that i bundled up some cotton (at top) and stuffed it in under the strips of cedar soaking in a rubbermaid tub, from my cedar weaving experiments. this was completely on a whim, no mordant, no heat, no nothing, just me noticing how dark and rosy the cedar water turned and wondering what it would do to fabric. i let it sit there for about six days before pulling it out. i ended up with an interesting tie-dye, and maybe i wrapped it too tight since there was lots of white left, but still liked out it turned out. i may try something else in the cedar, with some further prep.

solar dyeing first try

i'm enjoying playing around with solar dyeing. first up i had some purple cabbage that well, please don't laugh, has been sitting in my fridge since A made corned beef and cabbage on st. patrick's day. yeah. amazing how well it had stood up, actually, but it was definitely time to find a better use for it. i mordanted my fabrics with alum, for this first try a mix of wool, silk, cotton, linen and a cotton/poly blend, and then let them sit in the dye jar for several days.

purple cabbage

the results turned out quite well, don't you think? the colour is definitely stronger on the animal fibres, as i didn't really mordant properly for the vegetable ones, but in the end it's all an experiment and i'm pretty happy with the light purples too, so no complaints.

a bit of this and that

i also did some wool and silk in with some dandelion leaves. my initial thought had been to use the flowers, until i realized i'd recently mowed them down and any stragglers were now puffs of white. but the leaves provided a very pleasing pale greenish-yellow. i don't know that it shows too well in the photo, but it's almost a soft gold. behind the fabrics you can see a jar with attempt #3 - dyeing with leopard's bane. i don't know if this flower works well for dyeing, but i have lots of it my yard, so we'll see what happens.


things i'm liking this morning:
• Annie's eagle
• Margie's purple haze

Saturday, May 28, 2011



given enough time, everything changes. with what i make, i consider everything a work in progress. i've been known to often make a piece of clothing and wear it a few times, and then make further changes. or sit with something, think on it. in the case of this mama and baby grey whale, i have been sitting with them for awhile, even though i had called them "done". last week i added a few more layers, some patchwork, bits of linen, cotton, silk. they have more character i think, a bit of experience coming as they've been around a bit now. i like them even more. they are back in the shop.

Friday, May 27, 2011

friday flickr faves: the blues

friday flickr faves

back for another friday sharing some flickr love. it is unrepentantly pouring this morning, feels awfully gloomy for late may. while i like to make mosaics on a bit of a colour theme, this one definitely found a bit of a subject focus as well - a lot of ocean with several touches of birds/feathers too.

hope you're heading into a good weekend. i suppose it is a long one in the states - up here in canada we had our long weekend last week. i have been playing around with a bit of dyeing (yay!) this week so will be back here to share. if it continues to rain, i can see i may be tucked up doing a fair bit of stitching too...

Monday, May 23, 2011

cedar weaving...

as mentioned, yesterday my friend Em showed me how to do traditional cedar weaving, starting from harvesting the cedar bark all the way up to making a final product. i tried to take photos of steps along the way. please be assured that some of the bark can be removed from the tree without permanently hurting it - the first nations of the pacific northwest have been using cedar bark for thousands of years in this way. in fact not far from the tree we picked we found another tree that had been "culturally modified" in the same way - and saw how the bark was growing back to cover the scar.

first cut

first up, we found a suitable tree, a western red cedar, and then made a little offering and thanked the tree for sharing with us. then she made the first cut. we made a cut horizontally across a section of bark, and then a vertical slice on each side until we could pry up a section to grab hold of.

peeling the bark

then we pulled up and the bark released along a length of the trunk until it came free. we pulled off several thin sections with a bit of work, although the bark does come off fairly easily in this way.

bark cross section

above you can see a cross section of the tree, showing the inner bark between the rough outer bark and the smooth wood of the tree. after pulling the bark from the tree, we thanked the tree again, and began on the next step. we peeled the desired inner layer from the outer bark. then we put the inner bark in a tub of water to soak and soften.

soaking cedar strips

after the bark has softened, it often needs further work by making thinner strips that are easier to work with. Em then taught me to make basic cordage, which can be used for a variety of things but makes great bracelets and necklaces. but i still have a fair bit of cedar left, so i am doing some further research on weaving. perhaps eventually i will be able to make a hat like this.

making cordage

the peoples of the pacific northwest traditionally use cedar for a variety of items including clothing and hats. if you are interested in a comprehensive look at how cedar plays a part in the first nations cultures of the coast, hilary stewart's book cedar is a wonderful resource. i am also hoping to perhaps incorporate some of the cedar into my stitch work; i would love to bring a bit more of the coast into my work this way.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

sea anemones, two ways

sea anemones, two ways

on my recent wanderings on a nearby beach, i have been surprised at the way that many sea anemones nestle in sand, rather than clinging to exposed rocks as i am used to. i've since realized that of course there are many types of anemones around here, and each has their preferred habitat. this led to these new stitched pieces, continuing in my shore fragments series. on left is a moonglow anemone (similar to this one), on a sandy spot with a few clamshells and other shore debris. on the right are a pair of giant green anemones tucked under a barnacled rock.

a different take

each cloth measures roughly 8"x8". while on my last fragments piece i added a braided cord for hanging, i am thinking these would look nice framed with a wide white mat, and i think i will mount them on archival stock so that they are ready for framing. a shadow box frame would work well so that the glass will not touch the layers of fabric. i will let you know when they are available in the shop


with pretty much all my work originating in the wilds of the west coast, the creatures that inhabit this area are very important to me. there are areas of this coast that are natural jewels, where the way of life has been the same for thousands of years. recently, an oil company from the alberta tarsands is lobbying to build a pipeline over the rocky mountains and across northern bc to the coast, crossing many sensitive watersheds. once this dirty crude reaches the coast, it will be loaded on tanker ships to head to markets overseas. there are no oil tankers on this coast right now. annie wrote about this recently, as she lives much closer to the affected area than i do. however, if there is an oil spill on this coast, we will all be affected. and with our winding waterways with many islands and tidal challenges, even the oil company admits it is a matter of when, not if that spill will come. if you get a chance, i highly recommend the 44 minute documentary spoil. it is a breathtakingly beautiful look at the great bear rainforest, and shows what would be lost if oil tankers are allowed on the coast. i try not to preach very often, but this is a huge issue that could change our coast irreparably. i spent the whole film on the verge of welling up, both in awe at the scenery of the coast, and how it could all disappear.

okay, enough out of me. i hope you are having a good (long, if you are in canada) weekend. i am headed out later this morning with my friend who is going to show me how to harvest some cedar bark for weaving. i have been wanting to try this traditional first nations activity for a while - i will share more if i am successful in my weaving!

Friday, May 20, 2011

friday flickr faves: rainbow edition

friday flickr faves

1. Rainbow Yarn Horizontal 2, 2. Rainbow Self Portrait, 3. Rainbow over Texada, 4. ., 5. Syncopation: all done, 6. thursday's rainbow, 7. Oh 1, 8. Camping Quilt #1, 9. rainbow acorn color wheel, 10. 49.street art, 11. 10x30 Multibar, 12. earthues, 13. Doll Quilt Swap 8, 14. twelve, 15. Rainbow, 16. Cherry House Quilt Along

i made one of these last week, and it was such fun i thought i'd do another. the sun is beautiful today but the forecast looks a little wet for the coming long weekend, so some cheerful rainbows seemed in order. happy friday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


green layers

springtime is for flowers...even flowers of the sea. something new i'm stitching on, bright and saturated green linens. makes me smile each time i look at it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

wordless wednesday

Untitled, originally uploaded by k | fogandswell.


beach pea

beach peas


bleeding heart

pacific bleeding heart

the days are still cool, chilly breezes and rain keeping warmer weather from really settling in. but spring seems to have arrived anyway, in the flush of green on trees and bushes, pink cherry blossoms dusting the streets, and flowers everywhere. here are a few i've spotted lately - beach peas nestled amongst the driftwood, lupines poking out of the sand, and bleeding hearts carpeting the forest floor. doesn't all that colour feel good?

Monday, May 16, 2011

mermaids and beach treasures...

Mermaid's Purse

have you ever wandered along the beach and spotted a curious-shaped pouch tucked amongst the high tide debris? a mermaid's purse has a mystical quality about it, conjuring up merfolk and selkies and other legends of the sea. as the egg cases of many sharks, skates and rays, it is perhaps a little less magical, but i think still a treasure nonetheless. this particular mermaid's purse will last a lot longer than one washed up by the waves, hand stitched in canvas and linen with a little linen skate nestled inside. and of course it has a bit of sparkle; i mean, it is a mermaid's purse after all. the purse is open at one end so the skate can be pulled in and out.

Mermaid's Purse & Baby Skate

i have to give complete credit to dawn for giving this idea to me. once she suggested it, it was like a light bulb went off: of course! it didn't take me long to delve into my books, researching these treasures. expanding my natural history knowledge of the west coast is just as much fun as figuring out the construction of each new creature. this mermaid's purse and skate are in the shape of a big skate, the most common skate along this coast. full grown, it can be up to 2.4m (8 ft) long. and it's now available in the shop.

now what creature should be next?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

repairs and rhubarb...

it's a very rainy sunday here. i spent part of the morning helping A and his paddling partners pack so much gear into a vehicle and snug three kayaks on top in a strengthening drizzle. now they are headed off on their adventure, and it's just me in the quiet house. a few scenes from yesterday:


repair work on an old pair of jeans. i covered the right leg of these jeans with a heavy patchwork of red fabrics to repair three large L-shaped holes from snagging them on some barb wire, when i found i wasn't quite ready to say goodbye. a bit more than a year later, they needed some further patching. while the original patches were machine-stitched, i thought hand stitching was more in order now. i seem to hand stitch nearly everything these days, and the boro-style patching i use on some of my creatures is rooted in the traditional boro that was done on clothing. so it seemed only fitting that i should carry this philosophy to my own clothes. i wonder how long before these jeans will be only patches...

making rhubarb nectar

barb's recipe inspired me to make some rhubarb nectar with some rhubarb from my mom's garden. in with the rhubarb goes some lemons and oranges, plus fresh ginger and cinnamon. i can see it would be good for a nice spring cocktail, plus it's also pretty tasty thinned out with just a bit of water.

rhubarb nectar

back to some stitching now. there is a creature taking shape that is a bit "out there" on the spectrum - hopefully you guys will like it.

ps. thanks for the great feedback on my interview, i really appreciate your support!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

seven hour road trip...

6pm - drive 3 hours-ish west, to the open coast. 10pm - turn around and follow your trail home. 1:30, go to sleep. yup, we made a very quick road trip yesterday. see, A is leaving on a trip tomorrow, departing by kayak from a remote town northwest of here tucked away up an inlet, and paddling the winding passageways of nootka sound and then out along the open coastline south to clayoquot sound and finally finishing in tofino. i dream about tagging along, but my kayaking skills are not up for open water, especially compared to his experienced crew. but since he and his two paddling partners needed to shuttle a car to tofino to be waiting for them upon their return, i tagged along for the ride, camera in hand (as usual). here are a few shots along the way.

cathedral grove

cathedral grove is one of the first landmarks you come across after leaving the main freeway to follow winding highway 4 to the west coast. aptly named, as you will be looking to the heavens to find the tops of most of the trees, stout and sturdy cedars and douglas firs hundreds of years old.

black bear

and apparently it was black bear night along the highway! i think i did a good job of willing them there, as while we were driving alongside where a river flows and dips over gravel bars i said "there's a bear! no, not really." yeah, i'm hilarious. but nonethelesss, not five minutes later we were curving around a corner and A pointed, "well there's a bear." and there was.

black bear & me

this black bear snuffled along in the ditch beside the road, not two metres from the car, eating grass. he wasn't the least concerned about us. i don't really like that, as i think we both should have a healthy fear of each other. but at least he didn't object my camera snapping, although the waning daylight made it hard to get sharp shots (my apologies).

black bear cubs

once we left him, not another five minutes along, we spotted mama bear and two cubs perched on the edge of the road where it dips quickly down into forest, and stopped again. the cubs disappeared below our view while mom stayed at the road, eating and watching. while this highway is generally fairly quiet, we found ourselves joined by several more cars within a few minutes, stopping to have a boo. i suppose this was more than mom liked, and suddenly the cubs appeared again, but this time hurriedly shimmying their way up the nearest tree, er, telephone pole. and this was definitely becoming a trip where i cursed myself for not bringing the telephoto lens, although the falling darkness was making shooting with my regular lens hard enough. but with mama guarding the bottom of the pole there was no desire for me to get closer. it seemed much safer to remain in my perch peeping out A's sunroof.

cubs up a pole

after a few minutes it seemed best to leave the threesome in peace and we continued on our way, stopping only once more for me to snap a few shots at my favourite little hilltop lake along the route.


the light faded as we drove along, catching the pinkening sky along huge kennedy lake in our last stretch before the coast. daylight was all but gone as we drove past the open shores of long beach and into town. after a short wait our friends caught up with us and we parked one car, piled together in the other, and headed home in darkness, to finally fall exhausted into bed well into saturday morning.

chasing the sunset

Friday, May 13, 2011

the way it goes...

boots again

friday. good. i had a more interesting post to share, all drafted up and nearly done, but blogger seems to have lost it in their outage yesterday (not to mention a bunch of other organizational stuff i had done!). nuts. so i hope instead you will just enjoy my pics mostly on their own, from my beach walk on a windy day, heavy clouds threatening rain and obscuring mountains and even hilltops. i even went back to boots and wool socks - thankfully today is much more springlike, although it is supposed to be our only sunny day for awhile. does mother nature not check the calendar?


nuttall's heart cockle, popping open just a little to smile at me.


so many whelk shells nestled between rocks and in pools, most with their original inhabitants, but quite a few now homes for hermit crabs.

purple laver

purple laver seaweed (i think), stretched across the rocks. love the texture of this.

buried moonglow anemone

a buried moonglow anemone stretching out in a small pool of water. so many other tucked tight against the air, i had to watch my feet carefully as i walked.

low ceiling

the good thing about a threatening weather kind of day is i was nearly all alone exploring the sand!

Monday, May 09, 2011

big blue and more...

boro blue whale

meet my new fellow, this little blue whale with boro character. A is a bit disappointed i didn't make him life-size, and maybe i am too. but i struggle to comprehend how much fabric (not to mention sheep to provide the wool stuffing!) i would need to make something longer than three school buses, bigger than a jet plane. did you know that the blue whale is the biggest animal on earth, possible ever? the 18th century minds that gave this whale its latin name had a bit of a sense of humour then, as he is balaenoptera musculus - musculus meaning "little mouse".

boro blue whale

still, this blue whale is my biggest creature yet, measuring about 13.5" long. he is stitched from repurposed denim, with an underbody of hand-dyed grey linen stitched carefully with silver thread. (a regal animal such as the blue deserves a bit of fancy accountrements, don't you think?) he also has some boro patches in shades of blue and grey linen on his back to help with his mottled appearance. little blue whale is similar to the humpback whales, but he is bigger, with a slightly different head, fin and tail shape. in real life of course, they are much much larger.

"Coast Sunset"

this new pin cushion is something i've had in mind for a bit, inspired by this photo i took on a hiking trip a few summers ago to a remote island off the west coast. these are definitely not my usual go-to colours, but i really like this dreamy gradation of hand-dyed purples against the black wool. the back is a dark purple linen. both the blue whale and this "coast sunset" pin cushion are now in the shop.

if you're interested in learning about more about my process and inspiration, there's an interview with me today over at elizabeth abernathy's blog. thanks so much elizabeth!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

saturday exploring...

big shell

first up, would like to wish all those mothers out there a happy mother's day! i will need to call mine shortly, although i know she enjoys a late morning start when she is able, so for now i'll let her sleep. i'll be mostly hanging around home today i think, nursing a bit of a cold. i had just a sore throat for a few days that i thought was getting better, but then i suppose i brought a full congestion upon myself by taking a long walk yesterday in sandals, including a few dips for my feet in the ocean. ah well, hope you will enjoy my shots of the beach!


in the two photos above, are lewis' moon snail shells. the one at top is about 5" across, and the biggest i have ever seen (they can get to about 5 1/2"), while the broken one was perhaps half that size. there were numerous broken shells on the mud flats so it is obviously a common area for them - lots of other animals to feed on. the flats were covered in mudflat snails, which i have not see in such quantity before - they have a neat elongated shape (sorry no pic).

goose spit, low tide

i went for a walk with a friend of mine, and her dog Lyla, who ended up in many of my shots. the tide was very low, and we walked all the way around the spit. it was very interesting for my nature nerd self, exploring the open sand on the outside of the spit, and then the mud flats on the inside, and the different sea life on each.

sand dollar

sand dollars could be found on both sides, many dark coloured live ones as well as bleached white shells. this one had the most interesting patterning - although dead, i think it was still transitioning between its former black fuzzy self and the white shell it will become.

wee crab

lots of crabs out exploring too. this little guy is a kelp crab i think, possibly a northern or slender kelp crab. including legs was maybe as long as my pinky finger (a couple inches).

sheet rain across the hills

we started walking in rain, after sitting in the car for a bit hoping it might stop (we were poorly dressed for it - bad west coasters!). but luckily the rain stopped not long into our walk and held off for the remainder. nonetheless, we could see it all around us, moving across the bay and the hills in sheets. quite amazing the way it hangs in the air.

lewis moon snail

lastly, i just had to share this shot of Lyla running with abandon across the sand. she was so happy to be out exploring with us, and raced around in sheer joy. wishing you all a happy sunday! i'll be back tomorrow with a bit of stitching to share.