Saturday, January 18, 2014

Brightening the Foggy Winter Days

We have had a wonderful tonic for the chilling damp fog of January - a visit from our Claudia. 

Her delightful husband Chris shoo'd her out the door while he and the boys stayed home in Berlin, so that she and baby-girl-in-the-making could come spend a week with us.

We love him. And her, too.

Claudi and Bryan, on The Rise looking SW over Okanagan Lake.

The weather wasn't great - hey, it's January in Canada, could have been much worse - but when good friends get together, the weather is incidental.

She and Bryan have been gallivanting all over the countryside: Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Armstrong and Enderby. The three of us went up Silver Star Mountain to the resort on Monday and I think know she's scheming contemplating a way to get a vacation home up there. They love to ski.

Claudi worked tirelessly on the puzzle, determined to have it finished before she left.

It's been very nice for Bryan to have her to himself during the day as they go about their touring. We convene at supper when I get home, then he usually retires to the den to read while we two talk the way women do - about family and children and life in general, and about what the future holds, especially the new baby she is expecting in a few months (yes, she's usually a trim and very fit young woman - that roundness is a baby belly, and a very active baby belly at that.).

And she has been instrumental in bringing the Boxing Day Puzzle from Hell to heel.

AND DONE! with photographic proof.
Claudi will soundly assure you that this was a Very Difficult Puzzle.

We're going to Penticton on Saturday afternoon to visit Becca, who hasn't seen her 'big sister' in 17 years. Am sad that Marlon couldn't get in a visit as well, but that's how it goes - Grande Prairie is 900 km away and winter roads are iffy.

We expect Brother Walter to arrive late Sunday from Minnesota for a visit with the BC contingent, so the evening will be lively with our international company!

And all too soon, early Monday morning, I'll be taking Claudi to the airport to fly back to Germany. A week can fly by so fast.

So you see, I haven't been ignoring you, my world-at-large. I've been fully engaged with family and thoroughly enjoying it. I hope you've been equally blessed.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Daydreaming about Silk

There was a discussion a few weeks ago about secret obsessions. One of my male co-workers confessed he was hooked on the TV show 'Jersey Shore' (as I don't have TV, I had to be informed that this was quite the admission). I regularly send an email letter out to a large number of friends and family, and confessed a few weeks ago that I've not made the progress I ought to on several ongoing projects because of my sporadic addiction to 'Angry Birds', a computer game I find rather cathartic.

A long-time addiction of my is silk - specifically spinning silk, and then weaving silk when I get enough spun and can bear to commit it to a project. I have several batches of unspun silk in various forms (caps,  hankies, roving) dyed in various ways (I sometimes play at dye workshops) that I'm so in love with in their present form that I've been reluctant to actually spin … plus I know that when I sit down at the wheel with one of them, the world as we know it will fall away and I'll become completely absorbed.

I'm a fan of a site that provides daily endless entertainment and enlightenment. A video about making traditional kimono was posted a few days ago. I'm quite a fan of kimono; about 10 years ago, The Daughter and I took in an show at the Alberta Provincial Museum in Edmonton of a private kimono collection.

Of course, just like when I was a kid and got lost in encyclopedias (please tell me I'm not the only one - I'd start to look up something and one idea led to another and two hours later I was surrounded by discarded books with no idea where I started) I get lost following trails of ideas on the internet, especially youtube. (I've been avoiding Pinterest like the plague because of this tendency!)

This is all a long precursor to this linked video that I discovered, and that has captured my imagination.

I know that there are a few weavers and even a few spinners who read this on occasion, and I'm sure they've already seen this video. If so, it bears re-watching. If not, I'm hoping you'll also enjoy it.

Laura Fry - I remember when you had occasion to work with the Peace Country Spinners and Weavers Guild. Do you remember, or were you at, an Alberta Handspinners, Dyers and Weavers conference in Fairview?

Two things stand out in my memory from that event: Rita Buchanan (I took part in her master class after the conference and was totally in heaven) and a woman from the US, I'm thinking Pennsylvania, who taught a quilt design class but also gave a talk about indigo dyeing in Eastern Europe - and I'm having a total memory block on her name.

I found that listening to the talk and watching a slide show about indigo block dyeing was just as absorbing as this video about silk weaving. What is it about fibre and textile fabrication that so entrances me?

If you do go to the youtube link, you'll see suggested videos on the right hand side of the screen, and don't you know that I've watched them,  too! Traditional Li textile techniques, Scotland's last artisan Tartan mill, weaving with a backstrap loom in the Himalayas.

If you're hardcore like I am, you may have a copy of the book Women's Work: the First 20,000 Years. It's a big book that explores how archeological discoveries about textile arts reveal women's influential roles in society starting way back in early times.

There's another book I'm thinking about - The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory.

Here's a review:
Shaped by cartoons and museum dioramas, our vision of Paleolithic times tends to feature fur-clad male hunters fearlessly attacking mammoths while timid women hover fearfully behind a boulder. In fact, recent research has shown that this vision bears little relation to reality.

The field of archaeology has changed dramatically in the past two decades, as women have challenged their male colleagues' exclusive focus on hard artifacts such as spear points rather than tougher to find evidence of women's work. J. M. Adovasio and Olga Soffer are two of the world's leading experts on perishable artifacts such as basketry, cordage, and weaving. In The Invisible Sex, the authors present an exciting new look at prehistory, arguing that women invented all kinds of critical materials, including the clothing necessary for life in colder climates, the ropes used to make rafts that enabled long-distance travel by water, and nets used for communal hunting. Even more important, women played a central role in the development of language and social life—in short, in our becoming human. In this eye-opening book, a new story about women in prehistory emerges with provocative implications for our assumptions about gender today.

See. I told you I wander and get lost.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Day, New Month, New Year

 Why is it I'm more excited about the start of the school year than I am about the start of a new calendar year?

Even though I'm long past my grade school days, as are my children, there's still an excitement in the air, a hopefulness, that arrives on September 1st.

Perhaps things would be more exciting for January 1st if it came with more cheerful weather. Or less on the emotional hangover after too much ... well, too much everything that the holiday season brings even if one doesn't buy into the whole consumer aspect of Christmas. I noted at work yesterday that my co-workers were looking distinctly tired. The heavy workload of previous weeks plus whatever seasonal activities each has been up to have finally caught up with us.

Or maybe I'm just preoccupied with this year's Boxing Day jigsaw puzzle, which is threatening to become this year's Easter puzzle.

This is my progress so far:

You can see that I do have the borders built, made good progress on the bottom and a fair start on the top.

This is what is supposed to look like, and I must have taken leave of my senses if I thought it was in the medium-difficulty range.

Nature's Colours indeed.

This is nature's colour today:

There is a mountain behind that cloud somewhere.

I think I'm going to have to pour some 'cheer' in my hot chocolate today.