Sunday, April 29, 2012

roly poly...

sea otter

sea otter

i have been reading about sea otters a bit lately, but mostly it has not been a happy story. i am reading the last great sea, which is a fascinating book, but talks a fair bit about the colonization of the coast and the ruthless hunt for sea otters for their thick fur coats. these poor little creatures were hunted nearly to extinction, in the times when similar efforts were made on many whale species along the northwest coast and elsewhere around the world. thankfully though, there does seem to be a happier future unfolding. sea otters are making a resurgence, in a few pockets along the coast between Alaska and California. i think these days sea otters are more known for their playful demeanor, rolling in and out of kelp beds and tumbling with their friends, than for the warm fur coat that could be made into a coat for humans.

this little fellow isn't made from fur, rather stitched up in some linens and a soft poly blend. he's a quiet sort, settling in for a float on his back and starfish snack. but he'll watch you with those gentle eyes, and perhaps offer a bit of his meal. sea otters are good friends. he can be found here.

soon enough i think i might need to make him a river otter companion. it's funny how similar and yet different those two animals are. river otters are so numerous along the coast, on the outside waters venturing far from shore, or on the inner coast swimming island to island, but also comfortable on shore, docks and anywhere there is some good exploring to be done. sea otters would prefer to stay in the water nearly all the time, their flipper-like back feet making them awkward on land. yet they usually stay close to shore and in shallow water, tucked into the kelp beds where there is lots of food to be found. two little creatures who have found their own niches on the wild west coast.

wishing you an good start to your week, and May, soon enough. wow, are we that far along already?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

how to age gracefully...

a blushing pair

ombre flower

a slow shift

aging gracefully


there is a master class in aging going on in the woods right now. those western trilliums, brilliant white when they first burst open from lush green leaves on the forest floor, are now slowly changing to shades of pink as the days pass by. at first it is a very gentle blush, then a slow ombre effect moving across the petals. each day brings another soft layer of colour until finally the petals have completely changed to a rich, deep magenta. those trilliums, they know how to age in style. yesterday on my walk i had to resist photographing each trillium i came to, each one at a slightly different stage in its journey, a slightly different interpretation of the colour shift. all of them beautiful.


without further ado, the winner of the mexican sunset giveaway is Abby! please send me an email with your mailing address so i can pop it in the mail for you. thanks to all that entered - i will try to have another giveaway soon.


there are dark clouds looming overhead this morning, and although thunderstorms are a rarity around here, the booming sound of the snowbirds passing overhead now and then helps give the day that mood. on my foray out to the farmers market, i was surprised at how cold it is, at nearly the end of april. for now i think i will stay inside for a bit, stitching on a new creature and maybe watching a movie. hope you're weekend is going well so far!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


creeping upwards

in the evening sunshine

thanks for your encouraging thoughts yesterday. today was a bit better, and the sun shone. perhaps i should be working on some things for the shop right now, but instead i'm knitting away at something for me. mindless is good right now.

if you haven't already, pop over to enter the giveway. i'll close up comments sometime tomorrow morning and pick a winner soon.


other things:
• this superfood toast is one of my favourite new breakfasts
• this quilt makes me swoon, as well as reminding me of the completely forgotten quilt i was working on last year. should get on that again...
• loving this emerson fry tunic - if it was in my budget, that would be my summer uniform.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

detour / mexican sunset

mexican sunset



it's funny how things get started, where ideas come from. Margie posted this photo taken on her mexican holiday a few weeks back. i thought it was beautiful, but didn't think that much more about it. but then Sonia chimed in, suggesting she could picture such a scene stitched up by me. hmmm...that got me to thinking. after i finished my little crab friend, i was in the mood for a change of pace, a detour of some sort. that photo was so different from my own main source of inspiration, and yet in common by celebrating the beauty of the world around us. and so this little piece came together, a mexican sunset.

it is fairly small, about 7"x5", and besides the base canvas stitched entirely in naturally dyed fabrics. the rich colours seemed to suit the mood. i picked fabrics based on colour, not material, so there is a mix of cottons, linens and silks. some are dyed by me, and some are from the little stash from Margie.

a very simple scene, but effective, i hope. a quick meditation on a high desert landscape so different from my own wet coast, where the rain is falling heavily outside my door today and the world is mossy and green with new growth. and since this idea was 'given' to me, in a way, i think it's only fitting to give it again. please leave a comment here before friday morning, if you like, and i will pick a winner to send this off to.

ETA: Thanks for all the kind words! Comments are now closed and a winner will be announced Saturday.


i'm stuck in a funk today, a bitchy, grouchy mood, so i'm keeping this short. trying to repeat the mantra learned so long ago from miss Erykah....let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

sunday in pink...

in bloom

now that's pink

pink star

under the forest canopy

some recent shots of salmonberry blooms in the forest. i love these pink stars glowing on the bushes right now, brightening up the forest at eye level while the other woodland flowers peek out from below. such vibrant flowers to cheer the heart right now, and with the promise of yummy tart-sweet berries later in the summer.


happy earth day to you all! hope you were able to get out and enjoy a bit of nature today. we headed up to the mountain for the last day of lift operations this year. it wasn't the best day to be had, at bit slushy and low visibility, but it was fun to be out with friends and enjoying the alpine. we just stayed for a few hours and then headed back home. our initial plans for a beach walk were scrapped by our rumbling tummies and we sat out on a patio for good food instead. but i just returned home from a forest walk along the river with my friend and her dog. everything is greening up nicely under the trees, flushing out in fresh leaves. the river rushed beside us, over-full of icy water heading to the sea, and the birds were singing heartily in their excitement for spring.

now settling in for a quiet evening at home with my man, getting mentally prepared for the week ahead. thinking about slicing into fresh bread that just came out of the oven and is wafting its intoxicating aroma through the house, but thinking perhaps i should eat something more resembling a real dinner. hmmmm.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

feelin' crabby*

can't beat the view

red rock crab



* not really

today has started off pretty well, just back home after running errands around town. a visit to the farmers market to pick up a few treats (kale, other greens, fresh beet pasta, eggs, and some red begonias). a pop over to my favourite nettle spot to do one last pick for the season. i filled a good bag with tender tops, but the plants are getting big and woody and i will leave them be now. the fibrous stems can also be irritating to the kidneys and urethra as the plants get older. on my way home i sent a little fog and swell package off in the post.

but in between there me and my crabby friend went to the beach! it was a beautiful morning on the shore, the tide ebbing and only a few other wanderers to be seen. this little crab was eager to explore the wide stretches of sand, but he also kept a careful eye on the gulls, should they decide he'd make a good early lunch.

if you missed it, this is my first piece for my collaboration with Abby. a red rock crab, stitched together in madder dyed linens. i also used a little bit of wool for those black-tipped claws, a distinctive feature of this particular species. and you might be wondering if this crab is a boy or a girl (or did you already figure it out from the photo above?) - because i'm just that dorky, i decided this crab had to be a boy. in the world of crab fishing, only the males are keepers, the ones you take home. the females get thrown back, to make more little crabbies. when i was a kid, we were taught (mainly with the little purple shore crabs, but occasionally with big ones brought home for dinner) that if a crab had a lighthouse shape on it's belly, it was a boy; if it had a beehive shape instead, it was a female. i know there are other associations for the shapes, but lighthouse and beehive was what i was taught. so this crab has a lighthouse shape rising up on the underside of his carapace. this little crab will hang out with me for a bit, but soon enough he will be sent off on a cross-continent journey to Abby to pair with whatever ocean creature she dreams up.

now i think i'll go sit outside again and enjoy the sunshine, perhaps with some crafting in hand. this evening i am headed up to the alpine for an evening event, and hopefully i'll catch a few mountain sunset shots with my camera. wishing you all a wonderful Saturday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

friday and the sun is shinin'

friday faves

1. Felt Moonsnail, 2. 1.5.12 3:58, 3. ..., 4. Feathers and toes, 5. this perspective, 6. tundra rain, 7. Left alone..., 8. Spring Nature Table, 9. Little Red Riding Wolf & Tater Tot, 10. natural dyed inspiration, 11. sunset in the city., 12. hellebore, 13. sunrise and sunny breakfasts, 14. Kelsey Bay, 15. Byron Bartlett Gets Barrelled, Seeking Exit, 16. European Ground Beetle

hoping to entertain you with the work of other photographers, who often do it much better than i could anyway. this weekend i will get back on track with some of my own shots - the camera has been feeling neglected recently!


sorry if it's been quiet this week. adjusting to all the things in my new job, plus up to my eyeballs in projects at my old job (of course with the perfect timing) has left me feeling tired and unproductive in the evenings. i know i'll settle in soon, and i'm trying not to complain that much. there are certainly worse things than being gainfully employed, right? a few have inquired what it is that i do - i have been a graphic designer for a number of years, but am now also taking on a marketing/admin role with a local tourism organization.

thanks for all the kind words about the collaboration with Abby - so encouraging to hear others are excited about it too. my crab is coming along well, if a bit slow, but i might even have it done by tomorrow and then i will share in full before it gets sent across the continent. then i've got to decide on a forest creature for the other half of our collaboration! somewhere in there should be some regular stitching too - there are several beasts percolating in the back of my mind right now. hmmm, and some clothing plans too - how much can i get done this weekend? yeah, let's not get too excited - i am also (net)working tomorrow evening at a local event, and hoping to hit the slopes for one last day of riding on sunday with some friends before the ski hill shuts down winter operations for the year.

but a crab; a crab i can definitely finish. especially if there is a bit of sunlight still to be found when i get home, and a quiet spot outside to breathe deep and stitch. wishing you all much relaxation of your own this weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

a collaboration...

natural dyed fabrics and planning


in progress

a little while back, another maker emailed me about doing a collaboration together. have you heard of Abby Glassenberg? of course you have - she makes fantastic little creatures, teaches sewing workshops, and even has an awesome book about making fabric birds. i've been a fan of Abby's for a while, so i was psyched when she asked me to work on a project with her. and now it's time to tell you guys about it.

we have picked two fairly broad themes, ocean and forest, and we are each going to make a creature for each of the themes. Abby is starting with a forest creature, and i with one from the sea. the fun part is that once we are done these pieces, we will send them on their way across the continent (Abby lives in Massachusetts, nearly on the opposite coast from my BC home). then the other person will make a complimentary creature to pair with the piece they received in the mail, using some of the same fabrics too. so we will end up with two collector's sets, one ocean and one forest-inspired, with a piece from each maker in each. two pieces showing each maker's style and aesthetic, but with the same fabrics and in a common theme. times two! these sets will then be put in our shops, should any of you folks be interested. i hope you'll follow along here and over on Abby's blog as we work on our projects.

i wasn't sure what i would make originally, knowing i wanted it to be a new creature that I had not made before. in the end it was the dye pot that led to my inspiration. i dyed up some linen and cotton with madder, as well as overdyeing some red linen with purple cabbage to create a mottled look. then it came to me - a crab! specifically i am working on a red rock crab, one of the more common large crabs around here that i also see regularly on low tide walks (you can see one here). they are ornery fellows, known for the sharp pinch of their black-tipped claws if you get on the wrong end of them. but i like their vibrant red colour more commonly seen on other crabs only after they have been cooked for dinner. i'm trying to take more photos of my construction process, so check back in to see how he develops. above you can see the fabric that i'm working with, some of my research to get a look at these crabs from various angles, and a start on the main body.


by the time you are reading this, i'll be well into the first day of my new job. here's hoping it goes well, and also that i won't be too tired at the end of the day to get back to stitching on this new creature!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

a beauty-full heart...

at the front of our house are two large butterfly bushes, or at least that is the colloquial name i know them by. apparently bees don't care about names like that though, as this week those bushes seem to be humming steadily every time i pass them. i was just outside trying to catch some of the big fuzzy bees with my camera, but my arrival seemed to signal an opportunity for little bee planets to orbit around my head, rather than sit still for a moment so i could snap a photo. so let's look at forest flowers instead, shall we?

full flush


while in most cases the leaves of the plants and trees are just vibrant chartreuse sprouts at the end of branches right now, the flowers are really in their prime. the swamp lanterns (or skunk cabbage) are like a yellow carpet in the boggy areas, odd-shaped yellow blooms and lush foliage brightening up the forest (and filling it with their heady aroma). the trilliums have taken over too, little white three-pointed butterflies alighting on every green surface. i am looking forward to when they start to turn pink as they age - there are a few in my yard as well that i can keep an eye on. the bleeding hearts are still taking their time, but there were a few pink flowers here and there. but on this particular walk i was looking for a particular bloom, and then i walked around the bend in the trail and saw this:

my heart blooms

from below

looking up

not quite

love those pink stripes

oh, fawn lilies! i feel so melodramatic to see that i gasped out loud and my heart swelled a little at the first swath of pink stars nestled in the moss. but i was so excited to see them - i have been waiting eagerly, and their beauty never fails to capture me. the next few twists in the trail revealed hundreds more, of both the pink and white varieties (including many that were white with lovely pink stripes. the tricky part about photographing fawn lilies is that they face down to the ground, and are only a few inches tall. it's hard to get down on your belly to snap a shot without crushing dozens more. i did my best by venturing into the patch by navigating a fallen log, and using the blind shooting technique (where i hold my camera low and don't look through the viewfinder). of course then a crew of dogs on a walk came crashing through the scene to say hello, blissfully ignorant of the carnage they left in their wake. ah, well.

i could have spent hours in that patch of blooms, but real life called me back. and a new beast is taking shape today - more info tomorrow!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

spring migration...

must be springtime

baby grey whale

mama grey whale

each spring, the grey whales begin their long migration from their birthing grounds (seas?) in Baja, and head north to the nutrient-rich waters of Alaska for the summer, passing by my island as they go. mama whales travel with their not-so-little little whales in tow. i have been lucky enough to see the whales travelling north a few times (and some stay well into the summer), although i have not seen any yet this year. but when you can't see the real thing, might as well make your own! except i just get to enjoy these two for a little while. this grey whale mama and baby set were a custom order for someone who recently visited Baja and saw the whales up close. a magical experience, i bet.


i'm not sure if i mentioned before (i know i have been exclaiming over on fb), but i recently caught the three part series ocean giants on pbs. serendipitous, really, as i wasn't keeping track of when the episodes were on but somehow managed to turn on the tv right around when each episode was showing (over several weeks). so cool to see all the different whales and dolphins, and what amazing creatures they truly are. i highly recommend checking the series out - you can watch all three episodes online. in fact, i might watch a bit of them myself, as i settle into some work this afternoon.

back again tomorrow with some more spring flower photos taken in the forest this morning. it is a gorgeous day and the light in the woods was beautiful. and on monday i'll be sharing a little collaboration i'm starting that i hope you'll be as excited about as i am!

Thursday, April 12, 2012



beach butterfly

i'm feeling of few words this week; i have few photos to share. just wanted to check in and say hi nonetheless. share a couple of beach 'butterflies'. hope you are all well.

this evening i felt like making food though. if you're interested, i made these quinoa corn muffins to have with dinner. they were very tasty. i have very thinly sliced sweet potatoes and parsnip in the dehydrator, after a quick blanch and a toss in some chili and cumin, hoping they will turn into some tasty chips. and i just put a batch of raw hemp protein bars in the fridge to harden. they look like they could be very good.

while i'm not much of a recipe follower, prefering a freestyle approach to much of my cooking and baking, i do tend to get comfortable making the same things over and over. my pinterest food board has been a great way to keep new recipes on my mind and get me playing around with interesting ingredients. if you have made anything tasty recently, i'd love if you would share in the comments!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

snowy mountains...

quiet evening


heading north

a bluebird day

yesterday was spent high above the seashore, sliding down sparkly white slopes on my board. the day started out a flat grey, even a few drops of rain coming down on the windshield as we drove up the winding mountain road. but as we settled into the routine of riding up the lifts and then swishing our way back down again, blue patches began to poke through and gradually the surrounding peaks revealed themselves under a sunny sky. it was my first day up since that happened, and it felt really good to get a few turns in before the ski hill closes up for the season in another couple weeks. it felt even better to have a laugh with good friends in the sunshine.

when i got home and was browsing through some recent photos i realized i've been capturing the mountains a fair bit these days, from down here at sea level. some recent good weather days have made those still very snowy peaks stand out against blue sky and water, both on the island and mainland ranges. one can't help but be awed by the view, no matter how many times i've seen it before.

today after work i'll be back hidden in the forest though, darting between trees on my bike. on the coast you can never tell how long a good weather spell will last, so it's best to take advantage while you can! hope you are all enjoying some sunshine too.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

evolution of the whale...

evolution of the whale

there are slight tweaks that take place every time i make a new version of a beast i have made before, whether refining design or trying new ideas. the humpback whale is definitely the creature i have made the most times, although i just realized i haven't made one since november. time to try something new. this one has several bigger changes - i think i'm liking the evolution.

he can be found here.

at ground level...


at ground level

pacific bleeding heart

if your main goal when going for a walk is 'get some exercise', definitely don't go for a walk with me. yesterday's excursion was a prime example, as i watched the same jogger lap me twice while i pottered along, stopping every few feet to look at something or snap a photo.  exercise is certainly a good thing, but i am constantly distracted, or constantly re-focused, depending on how you look at it, when out in the forest or at the beach. right now, as mentioned the other day, i am busy spotting new plants poking up through last autumn's dead leaves. i was especially excited on this particular trail to discover a large patch of what will soon be fawn lilies (top photo), a favourite of mine. i will have to go back in a few days or a week to see what has opened up. the forest was full of light yesterday, and full of the birdsong of robins serenading the sunny spring day. a soft tap-tap-tapping caught my ear and stopped me too, sending me backtracking a little bit until i spotted the red-breasted sapsucker leaving a grid of small holes up a rotting tree. always so much going on, if one is paying attention.


today is another sunny day, and i just spend a bit of time sitting outside (!) with bare feet (!) stitching on a whale. i'm almost inclined to head up to the garden centre to get some new spring-y things, but i think some lunch is in order soon. it'll be hard to top what might be my new favourite breakfast. hope you're getting a little sunshine too this saturday. :)

Friday, April 06, 2012

good friday favourites...

good friday faves

1. peach blossoms, 2. Spring Nature Table, 3. Untitled, 4. Untitled, 5. helleborus, 6. sandstone and log layers, 7. Untitled, 8. keeping up with the dye journal, 9. birds on the rocks, 10. Untitled, 11. 3/4.2012 - photogenic bunny, 12. Pink flower, 13. 'pink dawn', 14. black parrot tulips, 15. 59, 16. full circle


hope you are all having a good start to a holiday weekend. it's a quiet morning here, and to be honest i'm currently watching the smurfs while typing this. i'm such a sucker for old cartoons. i hope this weekend sees me getting lots of work done but also lots of outside time, perhaps some easter-y baking, and maybe even an egg hunt (i'm also a total sucker for egg-shaped chocolate).

please click through the links and give the photographers in my little mosaic some love!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

april flowers...

ready to unfold

bleeding hearts

little bells

delicate pink

tri petal

salmonberry bloom

driving around town, or on walks through the neighbourhood, it makes me smile to see gardens start to sprout up with daffodils, rhododendrons burst out in colour, and cherry and magnolia trees flush with blooms. the world is waking up to spring. but to me, those carefully cultivated flowers rarely hold a candle to what is happening in the forest right now.

a friend and i have an annual tradition of a long walk along a local river at this time of year, a session where in between catching up on everyday life we exclaim loudly at each new flower or plant we spot sprouting up. we are nature nerds that way. we haven't had our walk yet this year (we live in different cities), but i have been keeping an eye on what's flushing out between the trees on my own little explorations. first comes the greenery, poking through the soil here and there, or little flecks of chartreuse scattered across branches. and then out pops a few flowers to say hello, until the whole wood seems filled with blooms. the swamp lanterns are always first, and the swampy areas and ditches are aglow in fragrant yellow spires. white tri-cornered petals of trilliums come shortly behind. hot pink begins to light up the salmonberry bushes. dark purpley-pink nubbins unfurl into pacific bleeding hearts. and more follow suit - tiny miner's lettuce and other sweet bell-shaped flowers. soon enough there will be fawn and chocolate lilies. each little surprise nestled gently in the muck or blanketing an open stretch between the trees swells up inside me. a riotous celebration of the new season, but all tucked carefully in the woods out of sight except for those who go to find it.

what about you? are you finding beautiful things popping up in your backyard or on nearby trails? or what are your favourite flowers to look for in the spring?


other things:
• this lemon raspberry muffin recipe might need a try this weekend.
• or maybe this quinoa chocolate chip cookies.
• thinking of starting a new sweater to work on here and there - this pomme de pin cardigan seems like it could be perfect for cold spring mornings.
• and a new job might need a new spring dress: i'm hoping to recreate this one with some cotton gauze that i bought and hope to dye as well. i need to decide on a colour though...