Tuesday, May 29, 2012

dyeing days...

black bean dye

layers of colour

one more

avocado pits

natural dyeing continues around here, something to do in between the rain drops and sun rays. i have been collecting black bean soaking liquid, after seeing the blue that Lisa got, and Joni's green. i completely forgot that they used baking soda in their dye liquid though, and so i got grey-purple (mordanted with alum, by the way). which really, is what i would expect based on the colour of the soaking liquid. it perhaps was not what i set out for in the beginning, but i quite like it. natural dyeing is full of surprises. in the photo you can see the results on washing linen, silk, cotton, and cotton jersey.

i prepared some other dye liquids over the weekend, but don't have fabric results yet to show. right now several sections of our yard are being overtaken by poppies (so vibrant and pretty, but after the bloom the plants are lackluster at best). i thought i would try gathering up the spent petals and see if i could get any colour from them. in that first shot of the poppy jar you can see the shift of colour, from bright orange-coral petals, to pale pink when they contact the hot water, and the darker pink liquid below. very curious to see what colour i get on fabric.

and that last picture? can you see what it is? i have dyed with avocado skins before, which give a nice dusty pink colour. but i have seen some results online and had some hints in my own experimenting, that i might get a much darker colour with just the avocado pits. so that is what i'm trying here. i don't know if it was necessary, but i had a bit of fun smashing up the pits with a hammer. i am letting them soak for a few days to get a dye liquid as well.

updates to come as the summer of natural dyeing progresses...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

sunday puppy love...




well, i figured i couldn't lead you on with talk of a puppy without sharing some shots. hope you enjoy these pics of sweet little Sam, while he's still little (do you see the size of those paws?). someday A and i hope to have our own dog, but i can have fun playing with my sister's for now. he is pretty mellow, but likes to play as well.


inspiration seems just slightly out of reach right now; some combination of long work days, late spring weather, and who knows what else. i am stitching on a couple custom turtle orders, but currently nothing else in the works. i'm feeling a bit stuck getting started on my second creature for my collaboration with Abby too. it will come, i know. are you working on any projects right now? if you have anything you'd like to share, be sure to leave a link in the comments so that i and any other readers can check it out.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

rainbow flowers...

at the beach


lupine stars

beach lupines

last weekend, on a grey day at the beach where i met up with my sister, her family, and their sweet new puppy, i spotted these amazing multi-coloured lupines poking out of the sand. quite often the lupines we see on the beach are pale yellow, or the classic purple. there was lots of yellow ones there two, but then many of these that were a strange hybrid, a pale rainbow. beautiful.


today has been a gorgeous day, following up the equally nice weather of yesterday. i didn't get to enjoy much of yesterday though, spending 9.5 hours squinting at a computer and then heading home to see A after he'd been away for the week, only to have my mild headache develop into a full on migraine. ugh. but anyway, today started much better. we headed out to the farmers market this morning, surprised at the heat that was already taking over, and succumbing to a $1 fruit popsicles for breakfast. the rest of today has been a lot of time sitting in the sun-dappled shade of the cherry tree, attempting a few chords on my borrowed mandolin, and stitching another leatherback turtle. an easy saturday, and trying to enjoy the sun before the weather shifts again tomorrow. now to convince A to head out for a quick longboard by the river. after that, fresh locally-made pasta for dinner. what are you up to this weekend?


other things:
>>> i've never been a big fan of potato salad, but i made this tzatziki potato salad last night and it was really good. i think it'll become my new summer standby to go with whatever's on the grill.
>>> i'm really want to get one of these bubblescopes for my iphone whenever they come out.
>>> these handmade ballet flats are lovely.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

currently reading...

it's been ages since i've done one of these, but some shiny new books got delivered this morning so i thought i would share what i've been reading recently.

currently reading

on the top of the pile is civilization and the limpet, by martin wells. someone recommended this book to me on flickr a while back, and it has been really enjoyable. wells got me from the very first page with the observation that 'some poor people work all their lives and all they ever make is money'. his basic assertion is that modern society is increasingly focused on itself, and in some cases you would 'hardly know that other animals existed.' this book is a collection of essay on some of the more curious members of the animal kingdom, more specifically those of the marine world. each one is entertaining and informative and if you are a nature nerd like me it is a good read.

i just finished the last great sea and mentioned it here. a broad spectrum yet detailed history of the north pacific ocean that i've now read twice, and probably should again at some point. good, but a lot of information to absorb.

i found this curious 30 year old soft sculpture book in a pile of things at my friend's house, as she was cleaning out old things while she moved. i haven't fully explored it yet but there are some very quirky sculptures featured. i may give it its own post soon.

wild color is a book i've had for quite some time, but i've been referring to it a lot recently as i'm getting back into natural dyeing as the weather warms (something about summer and dyeing works perfectly together, don't you think?). i think this book is an excellent reference for anyone playing around with natural dyeing.

the last two books arrived this morning, and are further inspiration for the summer of dyeing (see above) i have planned.  indigo is not so much a how-to book as a comprehensive history of indigo use. maybe someday i'll get to actual successful indigo dyeing and then i can be part of that history... eco colour is natural dyeing under the guidance of the amazing india flint. i actually borrowed this book from the library, but due to its high demand i was only allowed a 14 day loan with no renewal. a quick browse told me i would be referring to this volume for a while to come, so it seemed a good idea to get my own copy.

what are you reading lately? (ps, i'm looking for a good summer novel to whisk me away - any suggestions?)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

oyster in the shell...



i have a tendency to overlook the oysters when i'm wandering the beach. those ubiquitous ragged white shells, either whole living creatures or discarded husks, dot the shoreline in many places at low tide, to a point that for me they sometimes blend into the background as i search for other treasures. due to their generally stationary lifestyle, they are often covered with barnacles and other marine life, nestled in the muddier spots. and yet, they are a big part of the coast. like other filter feeders, they help keep the water clean. the native species have been eaten by the first nations of the coast for probably as long as either have been here. introduced species have taken over in many places as commercial farming of them has increased, good or bad as that may be. and i certainly enjoy a fresh shucked oyster breaded and dropped in a sizzling pan. It seemed about time to give them their due.

this oyster is completely hand stitched from layers of creamy linen and silk. while live oysters on the beach tend to be shut up tight against the air, this one is cracked open to show you the (somewhat simplified) meat inside. although pearls are rare in oysters of the coast, i have found a small, irregular bead now and again and added one here. and of course there are a few barnacles dotting its shell. :)

if you appreciate oysters like i am learning to do, this one can be found in the shop.


also in the shop, i am now offering green sea turtles and leatherback turtles as made to order items. i hope to do this soon with some other pieces, as i hope this will make it easier rather than wondering when i might make a certain creature again. i will offer the custom creatures as long as i have the materials to recreate similar pieces to ones i have done before (in some cases these materials are quite limited). and please know that as always, i do accept custom orders if there is a specific beast that you would like to see recreated in textiles but have not seen me make yet. i love a challenge!

Monday, May 21, 2012

small things...


>>> awed by the perfect blue of a robin's egg, found on the trail.

poking out

>>> spotting mushrooms pushing through the earth here and there, counter-intuitive to the calendar.


>>> appreciating the last of the trilliums, fading as the weather warms up.

spun paper

>>> noting the perfection of a tiny wasp's nest, abandoned on the forest floor.


>>> preparing an iron mordant with rusty nails in a vinegar solution, for later use in dyeing.


>>> admiring the vibrant colour of the clematis blooming outside my door, even more so when kissed by raindrops.

hope your week is starting well...even better if it is a holiday monday like i am enjoying this morning. the rain is still falling outside, determined but gentle.  i'm currently typing while savouring the warmth under the covers, but my tummy is rumbling and it might be time to embrace the day.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

gathering stones...

three stones

gentle rain was falling outside the open window when i woke this morning, snug under the covers with A asleep beside me. a quiet sunday it will be, puttering about with tasks with moments of pause. there is bread rising in a big bowl resting on the back of the couch (the heater is behind), and i'm plotting some fabric mordanting and possibly a dye pot of some sort.

the three tiny stones above were stitched last night, natural dyed silk and washing linen on small linen squares, and will be sent out this week to jude. have you heard about the magic feather project? i missed my chance to send over a stitched feather or two, so i'm glad to have a new opportunity to contribute to this lovely community project. she is gathering stones now, perhaps you want to send her some too?

>>> patrick watson always transports me to a magical place.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

saturday exploring...

ammonite falls

ammonite falls


through the trees

on the trail

after a beautiful languid week of warm weather, clouds moved in this afternoon and rain is in the air. the 7-day stretch shows nothing but little cloud icons with lines of grey falling from them. A and i decided to make the best of this last day of sunshine and went to explore a new hike. ammonite falls sits deep in a canyon, on a trail a bit of a drive south of us but the photos online made it too tempting to turn up. descending into the woods from the access road, we were quickly in peace, away from the sounds of the nearby city with only the wind tickling the treetops above. soon enough a louder rush of noise hinted at the creek, still hidden from our view. the hike was shorter than expected, and before long we followed the line of old ropes down a steep slope to the creek bed. the falls rose high above us, falling gently into the pool spreading out at our feet. we found a sunny spot to settle in, and made wraps for lunch as we enjoyed the view. it was a popular spot in the lee of the falls, but their shower of noise helped drown out the sound of others and gave us a quiet rest, a soft mist floating across the canyon to where we sat. soon enough it was time to head back, through the woods again and back to the truck. an afternoon spent in nature, just the two of us, was a sweet little escape.


tonight i'm playing around with a mandolin that i borrowed from a friend, trying to decide if i want one of my own. i've learned four chords, but i know that is just a toe in the edge of a long river.

hope you are having a good weekend (a long one if you are in canada).

Thursday, May 17, 2012



feeling quiet. remembering a great man who passed away tuesday evening, doing something he loved, but far too soon all the same. i'll be thinking of your big smile and equally big hugs, and your absolute joy for living every moment.


thanks for your kind words about my vest. it's been a busy week, work-wise. hoping for a bit of re-focus on the weekend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

a lighter layer...




a little while back i was thinking that an in-between layer would be nice. you know, something for those still chilly spring mornings, or to throw on on cool summer evenings outside. something to carry me into fall as the air begins to crisp up again. something to add an extra layer to warm my core on brisk winter beach walks. okay, actually i've been thinking about a vest for awhile, years if the truth be told. i even knit one once, but the finished shape was completely not what i had hoped and the wool was reused on another project. that seemed the problem with a lot of vest patterns - too boxy, too short, too ugly, to be honest.

after the success of my aidez last fall, i had been thinking i would probably like to knit the pattern again sometime, maybe with a different stitch pattern to switch up the look a bit. then this spring i stumbled upon this aidez and things clicked. that knitter actually plans to add the sleeves at some time, but in my case this seemed like just the sort of vest i was looking for. i had some worsted grey wool that had been sitting in my knits basket for far too long and knew it would work well for the project. i mixed up the stitch pattern a bit, most noticeably using the leaf lace pattern from baudelaire (here's my original sock version of this pattern).

in moments stolen here and there, and a concentrated push to finish this past weekend that left my weak wrist groaning a bit, this vest came together fairly easily. i think it will fit the in-between bill that i was hoping for, and even as summer weather has crept in this past week a good layer is still an important outfit anchor.

for full details, please see ravelry.


in other news, a friend's uncle gifted her a wooden rowboat that he built. she generously decided to share ownership with A and i. it helps that i'm the only one with a vehicle with a tow hitch, and we have a spot to store it here. so expect some boating/fishing/crabbing adventures this summer as we explore further afield with our new little orange boat. exciting! i have very fond memories of rowing around in the little rowboat we had when i was a kid. this one's a fair bit bigger (about 15') but that just means more room for friends (and crabs!).

Monday, May 14, 2012

shoulda been working...

great view, great day

feels like summer


Em & me

...but who can deny a beautiful day like yesterday? warmer weather has finally arrived, and most inhabitants of my little valley seemed to be out in force enjoying the sunshine. A and i had a relaxing brunch on the patio at one of our favourite spots, filled with happy people eating good food and celebrating mother's day with family. despite not being a mother, even i got a white carnation from the restaurant to take home.

in the afternoon we headed to the beach with a friend, where cars crowded the spit road and groups of people crowded the shore. we quickly left the masses behind though, paddling out into the bay on boards gliding smoothly across the surface. we had contemplated wetsuits in the morning, but under a bright sun i was glad to not be wearing one, keeping plenty warm unless i were to slip into the water. we didn't take any swims, but even wading when getting on and off the board i was surprised at the mild temp of the sea.water jellies pulsed here and there just under the surface, and i think i spotted one small little lion's mane. eagles soared overhead and the occasional wake of a boat farther out in the bay reminded us there were other people about. a harem of seals kept court on a large float, but retreated into the water as we and a couple kayakers approached. they couldn't help their curious selves though, poking heads high out of the water to peer at us.

on the ride home we stopped for some gelato (first of the season!) and A and i indulged at home and had a margarita is well (watermelon-strawberry-lime is becoming my specialty). a full but easy day with the feel of real summer. love those. what did you get up to?

a bit of full disclosure and detail here - i didn't take any of these photos. A brought our gopro camera out on the water and mounted it on his paddle, so for once i'm actually appearing in photos and i didn't do any shooting! the gopro also creates a bit of mystery when shooting as you don't get to see the shots until you get home on your computer (and you don't look through any viewfinder when shooting). fun to play with in photo and video modes, both above and below the surface of the water!


ETA - because Rendell asked - i don't have a margarita 'recipe' per se, i just called them margaritas because they have tequila in them. anyway - i've discovered that cubing and freezing watermelon is genius for making drinks and smoothies. so in this case i use my little bullet blender to make enough for two glasses, and pack it with cubes of watermelon and frozen strawberries (still have some from last year's pick!) with a bit of water and limeade and blend until nice and frothy. i put a good bit of tequila in the bottom of each glass (measure? what's that?) and then top with the blended fruit mixture. if needed to top up the glass i'll add a bit more limeade, then give a quick stir. voila! yummy fruitiness for hot summer evenings - and would be just as good with rum as a daquiri, or without any alcohol at all.


there will be crafting to share soon, i promise! wishing you a great start to your week.


oh and one more thing. i've been finding lots of great new music recently, but the lumineers are definitely finding a place near the top of the list.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


a sunny day in february

big space, red lady

beach love

herring boat at sunset

two under a moody sky

well, not really, but all these shots are at least two months old. just sorting through some of my shots and finding a few that i didn't post before for whatever reason, but quite like now.


today is beautiful and warm, and the 7-day forecast looks equally promising. spring & sunshine, finally. the day has been fairly uneventful. planting a few herbs & begonias in the garden and some errands around town. trying to work out the next steps on a forgotten piece that i resurrected this week...finding myself distracted by some nearly-done knitting instead...thinking about getting out on the paddleboard today or tomorrow...or just sitting out on the lawn for a bit with said stitching or knitting...wondering if it's too early for a margarita, since yesterday evening's homemade strawberry-watermelon-lime was so good...loving that it feels like nearly summertime...

what are you up to?


>>> i just fell madly in love with this woven basket.
>>> the embroidery work of Lauren DiCioccio is awe-inspiring (via Anthology).
>>> sunny days call for icy desserts, and this strawberry sorbet sounds both simple and delicious.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

fraternal twins...shop update

fraternal twins

just a quick hello this morning to let you know that these two humpback whales swam into the shop this morning. fraternal twins, one with a wonderful blue/grey/gold dotted cotton belly, and the other with a grey/blue linen. i need to start keeping my eyes open for real humpbacks, back in these waters for the summer.


i also got some good mail yesterday - Abby's deer! i'll be starting work on my companion piece very shortly, and will be sure to share all the details with you guys.


one more thing - my sketchbook is coming to Vancouver next week! i am so sad i won't be able to see it because it is mid-week and i can't get away, but if you do go and happen to spot my book, please let me know. i'd love to know how it looks with all the other sketchbooks.

happy tuesday!

Monday, May 07, 2012

low tide again...

tug o' war

don't come any closer


in the stream


wee hermit crab


hermit crab colony


lewis moon snail

most of the time i go for walks alone. just me and my camera. but once in awhile it is fun to go with someone else, especially someone who is as kid-like as i when it comes to exploring the life around us. my friend Emily is one of those people, and we hit the sand today just a little before the low tide reached its peak. we were on a long spit of land that i love to explore, and first we headed to the exposed outer beach where the wind chilled us despite the sun. the wide stretch of sand was dotted with pools here and there and before long i was wading through the seaweed water searching for creatures. after we crossed the road over into the mud flat expanse of the protected inner side, feeling the soft mud suck at our sandals. above you can see a little bit of what we saw - click on any image for more info. we saw ochre stars and leather stars, sea anemones tucked up tight against the air, hermit crabs and sand dollars, oysters and mussels, stranded jellyfish, mudflat snails and whelks and little shore crabs. two creatures in particular kept us fascinated for quite some time: an ornery and impressively-clawed rock crab, and the graceful but massive bulk of a lewis moon snail.

so many incredible creatures sharing this little piece of coast with us, on a bright beautiful spring day. i hope your sunday had a little nature in it too.

ETA: just looking back through some posts and realized Em and i went on a walk in the exact same spot one year ago minus a day. interesting to compare the two, or at least interesting to me...