Thursday, January 10, 2019

Working the Bug Away

We are in the cold dark days of January, and the long nights are even longer when one is fighting a chest cold. Thankfully I'm through the worst of it, now out and about on regular errands. From the onset, shortly after Christmas, until a few days ago, I was in a slow but steady rotation of sleeping and crocheting. I was too fuzzy-headed to concentrate on a book, but binge-watching Netflix while working on shawls was doable. I could nod off at any moment, and then pick up where I left off on both the show and the shawl.

And so here is a gallery of the latest projects, with your understanding that the colours truly are richer in real life than shown here.

Icelandic wool

You will perhaps notice that they look quite similar. That's because I stuck to one simple but efficient pattern, given my compromised brain function. The yarns are different for each project, as I clean out my stash.

Another batch of Icelandic, a bit coarser than the first but warm.

I don't mind working several pieces in the same pattern, as these are destined for sale anyway. 

A superwash wool called Painted Desert -
This is my favourite. I have enough yarn to make one or two more. 

My blue sewing dummy isn't perhaps the best model, but she gets the job done. I would love to own an old dressmaker's dummy for these displays... just saying.

70% wool, 30% silk. Feels like butter, drapes like a dream.
Have ideas to make another with this colour, adding
iridescent clear beads. 

I'm back at the wheel, working my way through last season's fleeces and getting a good number of skeins out of them. It's hard to believe, as the snow falls and the wind drifts it down our driveway, that it is only three months until we'll be shearing again.

Apologies for my long absence. Hoping you had a lovely holiday season, and all the best for 2019!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

In the Movies

Do you remember the old Buck Owen's song "Act Naturally"?

They're gonna put me in the movies,
They're gonna make a big star out of me.
We'll make a film about a man that's sad and lonely
And all I gotta do is act naturally

Well, a bunch of volunteers at Historic O'Keefe Ranch had an opportunity earlier this month to be in a movie (not "the movies") when PBS and Tourism British Columbia took footage of the Ranch and other places in the region for a promotional film. I don't know much of the details, just that I was asked to show up bright and early in costume with wheel and wool in tow.

The Ranch is technically closed for the season, so all the buildings had to be opened and staffed. People and a local group of school children were invited for the morning to be background colour (oh, these technical terms); turns out the film crew didn't want them after all but they did have a good time and kept us from twiddling our thumbs waiting for our turn.

Although it was a bright, sunshiny day, it was brutally cold in the morning, and still too chilly for me to set up my wheel any place other than the General Store, blessed with a large and functional wood stove. The 'store keep' and his 'wife' did an excellent job, as they do all summer, and it was fun to watch. The camera man took lots of close-up shots of my wheel and hands as I worked, but no one spoke to me - that's fine with me.

If nothing else, I did get a fair amount of spinning done, so there's that.

Getting ready for another take. Diane usually sells candy on the other side of the store,
 but there are so many cans on display with logos and other trademarks that they didn't want that in the scene
 - they apparently would need permissions from every single company represented on that wall!

This is where Diane usually sells her candy. Quite the display behind the counter.

The store also served as the post office in the 1860s, and is original to the Ranch.
It's fitted out much as it was in the day.

Diane is explaining to the show's host some of the articles on display.
The Ranch's events co-ordinator is in the background.

"How much candy would you like?" asks Diane.
The gumdrops and jellybeans are period-accurate, being introduced in the 1860s.

Candies are weighed and sold by the 1/4 lb or 1/2 lb.

Diane was such a trooper! They did several takes, and then close-ups to work into the scenes.
The Store Keep tidies shelves in the background.

I was set up in the corner. The post office grated window is behind me, as are two
period saddles: a western sidesaddle and an Association working saddle.
I grew up with Association saddles and own a sidesaddle very much like the one here,
 from the 1890s; it's presently on loan to a young lady.

I'm generally not fond of photos of me, but this one is OK I guess.
Kerry took it while I was watching the early part of the filming process.
Wish she'd said my shawl was awry; I crocheted it last winter with handspun alpaca.
This day I was spinning Cotswold wool on one of my Ashford 'traditional' wheels.

If the film ever makes it through to production, and I have information about where and when it can be viewed, I'll let you know. This may be the first and last movie I'm ever part of.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Kids Did a Thing

The weekend of the first Monday in October is always a time of celebration in Canada, as it is Thanksgiving weekend - the celebration of the harvest.

This year was an extra-special celebration for our family, as The Daughter and her partner got married on Sunday. It was a small group for the ceremony, supper and after-party but everyone had a good time.

Mr. Fearless fulfilled his role as Cuteness Personified. The ladies were lovely and the men were dashing. All as it should be.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Summer Ran Away

Summer ran away. And before it did, so did we for a few weeks. Went on a bike trip out to Manitoba, following a route east close to the border, then home along a north-central route. The only "rule" is to stay off major highways whenever possible.

Our journey was primarily to take my mother-in-law's ashes out to Manitoba, to be interred next to her husband. We made it into a longer trip - it's been many years since I went on a long road trip with The Husband.

It was a journey of memories, of contrasts, of reconnection to a land and a people.

The foothills of the Rockies, bathed in wildfire smoky, looking towards Waterton National Park.

We left home in early August, when the wildfire smoke hung heavy in the valleys and heat lay deep upon the prairies. One of our planned stops was a little place in southern Saskatchewan where Mom worked in the early 1980s. We took her in with us for a beer, a celebration. It was 42C outside so the break was a welcomed one on many levels.

Yup, that's Mom's box tucked under The Husband's arm.

People who say there's nothing to see on the prairies aren't trying very hard. There are some remarkable surprises, like this enormous cathedral in a little prairie town. Read here for the fascinating story of this place. We had a quick but very good tour.

Co-Cathedral in Gravelbourg,  SK. Built 100 years ago and located in a town of just 1,000 people
Compare it to the austerity of an history Mennonite church in the Mennonite Heritage Village, in Steinbach, MB (The Husband's hometown).

Church in the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach.
An austere contrast to the opulence of the Gravelbourg cathedral.
There were many moments like this, figuring out how to avoid the worse roads while staying away from major highway. It's how both the best memories and happiest surprises happen.

Surprises like this building in Qu'Appelle, SK. How many times have we driven past the turn-off and never gone into this little place with remnants of its glory days.

And contrast it to this modern and amazing place - the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. We spent a few hours there, and could have spent a few days.

This massive piece of Metis beadwork took my breath away.

While in Winnipeg, friend Gail took me to several places, including the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. This piece, of legendary bush pilot Tom Lamb, captivated me. I would so love to have it in my garden!

Of course, no ride is complete without frosty malt beverages. Wine is for meals and patios and gatherings around the fire pit. Rides require beer.

You'll note three glasses in these photos. Friend Marc came along for the trip west. Always fun.

The trip finished at the August. Many events and activities have filled the days since, and autumn is now truly upon us. The smoke has been washed from the skies by many days of steady rain...

but the glorious colours that are turned into jewels when the sun breaks through the clouds remind me yet again why this is my favourite season...

and sights like this make my fingers twitch to get my watercolours out from the cupboard.

Monday, July 23, 2018

When is a Phone Not a Phone?

When is phone not a phone?

When it's the controller for a chair that has heat and back vibration functions.

But wow, it is ever a fun toy in the hand of a 19 month old who loves to talk on the phone!

Friday, June 8, 2018


Mr. Fearless is either going to be a great future helper for Grandpa, or a terror - could go either way.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dimes, Wool and So Many Other Things

It is mid-way though May, and I hardly know where to begin. So I'll begin with the primary reason for my extended absence on this page.

My mother-in-law was afflicted with a rather aggressive form of cancer, and so there was much to-and-fro from January onwards. In mid-April, she ended her sojourn in this life at age 87 and moved on to her next adventure. And we, her survivors, are dealing with the dismantling of an earthly life.

As it is 140 km of mountain roads each way, from our place to hers, the logistics have sometimes been daunting. My sister-in-law and I are now cleaning out a house that has been occupied for 25 years without much going out the door.

Each time I feel a little overwhelmed or uncertain, I find a shiny dime, and I know it's all good. One on a sidewalk outside a store where I was getting empty boxes for packing; a second in the house itself; a third a few days later at the bottom of a box of empty bottles after a fractious exchange; the fourth in a very old apple basket in an overflowing storage room. Each little coin lifts my heart and brings a smile to my face.

And meanwhile, life moves on.

I spent a day at Historic O'Keefe Ranch, helping with shearing their small flock of rare breed sheep - Jacob with their multiple horns, and Shetland, with their luxurious yet troublesome fleece. As a result, the stash of fleeces in this house increased somewhat...

Bags of wool. Don't count them. Don't judge.

There are now 18 fleeces of varying breeds, in varying stages of unwashed, cleaning, cleaned, combed, stored and spun in this house. It is - or was - shearing season, after all.

Jacob fleece, about to be sorted and washed.

Wool drying in the warm breezes

The Husband is up north working for a few weeks, which allowed me time to temporarily stash bags o' wool in the garage whilst steadily working through the cleaning process. Also perhaps binge-watching Netflix online while combing out locks. Maybe.

The Husband worked on finishing a second bedroom in the basement of our house. It was framed in but needed actual walls and such. He did the drywall and taping before going north, and The Daughter (who is a former professional housepainter) is painting the walls.

The walls needed a few coats of primer and sanding, so I got to hang out with the little guy. It's been so lovely and warm that we spend a lot of our time outside, even nap time.

Playing at Grandma's house is exhausting.
The final coats of paint are being applied, in a warm honey colour. So happy. The Husband is expected home later this week, and soon will complete the  flooring and baseboard. Then room can be re-assembled and I can reclaim my sewing room (currently held hostage by the furniture and fixtures).

We've had a young fellow in the basement suite since late April; he's a project manager for a construction project close by and will be here until the end of the month. As the second bedroom is still under construction, that leave only the upstairs room for airbnb bookings. 

Shin Jin was our latest guest, visiting from China and staying with us for two days. He picked a good time for it as it's rodeo weekend here in town. He walked throughout our small burg and took many photos of the bucking stock in the pens down at the rodeo grounds, including two bison who are part of the half-time show.

We spent time the second evening hanging out on the deck.

That about sums up the last seven weeks. More or less.