Making Use of What One Has

I opened a cupboard to put something away and a package of figs fell on my head. These figs had been languishing and I quite frankly had regretted their purchase once I had them home. But since our Abbey trip I have been trying to look at daily tasks, like cooking a meal, with fresh eyes. It’s something we do in our household, try to use what is at hand rather than always needing something new. There is a potential in people and objects that isn’t always obvious, but with a little help sometimes it can be a lot of fun to see what emerges.

Those are deep thoughts about figs. Anyhow, I heavily adapted a recipe found in a vegetarian cookbook for this. Instead of red wine, I blended vinegars and added extra honey. I had no anise so added cloves and cinnamon. The figs were stewed until soft and then taken out to cool. I reduced the vinegars and flavourings down to a syrup and poured it over the figs. I tasted it and was very, very pleased! The recipe calls for creme fraiche, well, ice cream will have to do.

This fairly weird blanket (seen being blocked) is also an attempt to use up a number of small balls of handspun. It is not exactly an example of fine craftmanship! There are many gauges and many different fibres knitted up into squares. I whip stitched the squares together. Sewing the squares and retaining the integrity of the shape was very difficult and some of the squares warped in the process. I had no real idea how to crochet the whole mass together and thought, “hey, I took a free form class, I will just  make it work.” It  kind of looks like an abstract painting from a distance. If you squint. The whip stitching is very “Frankensteinian” and the crochet is a hodge podge of single and double stitches. It is soft, squishy and very warm. I love this thing! I will just put it upstairs when we have company…

Finally today, I realized what this craft blog was missing. Food entry, yup. Picture of knitting, yup. But there was one thing.

The obligatory cat with yarn picture. And I call this a knitting blog. Sheesh.

A Good Hat Makes All the Difference

It is cold (for here), down to minus three and there is a layer of frost on all the downed leaves from last week’s storm. There is a sense that this will be a long cold season. The handspun is a soft cotswald, romney and black corriedale roving that I found this fall on our trip to Utah. It has bounce and life and while the colours don’t actually show so well in the photo they echo the colours of the leaves in the picture opposite, with tans and dark browns amongst the darker greys.

Grant and I recently did a retreat at the Abbey, and stopped for walks around Ashland, Oregon, near the California border on our way. It always feels like a real treat to stop, look at pretty things in the shops, eat at the Indian buffet and then head to the Abbey for (mostly) silent retreat. It feels like a return home to spend time there, not home in the sense I want to live there, more that it is home for the heart. We sit with the community, work in the kitchen and elsewhere and bow a lot. Awakening at five, meditation, ceremony, work are the basic schedule. It is not as arduous as it sounds, and it provides renewal every time. I often stagger in the front gates of the monastery tired and maybe a bit sad, thinking “can I do this?” and of course I always can.
Check out the nice hat! A “touristy” shot from Ashland.

Sunshine’s Crafts, a Sampling

Sunshine is what we call “multi-craftual”. She does all sorts of crafty things. It has been so much fun to spend time knitting and drawing and painting together, it has revived old enthusiasms and created new skills for both of us. 

Recently Sunshine compiled a bit of a list of her recent work…(clicking on the pictures will enlarge them for closer viewing.)

Crafts in the Making

“Hi, it`s Sunshine here.
I just want to make a blog and talk about the fun crafts a 9th grader does in her free time:)
Just to tell all the readers out there, I like to make lists and organize stuff, so I`m going do this blog like a list.
 The first craft I have up here is friendship bracelet that I made for a friend. Though I still haven`t given it to her.
This picture is the third collection to the Faceless Tattoos Series.  The first two are on a earlier blog.  I was still in a gloomy mood, since I was in grade 9 summer school (Don`t worry I didn`t fail) and so I came up with this.. I don`t know what the next supernatural creature will be though.
Over a year ago, I decided to make a sweater for my mom.  Mikey and I went Michael`s, to pick out some nice and warm brown fabric for it.  And now a year later, I`ve barely done half of it.  It`s looking pretty good, eh? I might finish it when I`m about 100 years old.:)
For Halloween, I found this really cool Halloween fabric and sewed it into a cool, trick `o` treat bag.
Now the purple bunny with the deranged head and the mouse pushpin with falling off ears are Textiles projects from school.  You can see that I like purple.
The holey, weird looking scarf is my second knitting project, that I`m almost finished.   I started pretty determined, because I loved how the light blue and orange came together, but I got beaten down when the hole appeared.
And this is my first ever knitting project.  It was supposed to be a scarf, but since the wool is a bit scratchy,I decided to make a coaster-thing out of it.
This flower looking thing is actually a pencil holder.  I took some scrap pieces from the tech. ed room and experimented with it.  It turned out to look like this, which is absolutey fine, since half of my index fingernail was sanded off in process.
Finally, my craft is wood letters that I also made from wood scraps. You can see that I drilled little holes in the corner of the letter, so that when I find some, I willl slip a key ring in.  It will become a keychain.  Each letter represents the first letter of my family or friends names.
I hope you enjoyed this little blog.  Somewhere in the near future I will put up a blog about the two new scarfs I’m knitting.  One of them will be for me and one of them will be for Mikey, (it’s her christmas present, so don’t tell her:))”

Light and Dark Part Two: Interview with Sunshine

As promised, Sunshine did some thinking and writing about Diwali. The big celebration was last week and this is what she had to say.

How did you celebrate Diwali?

Well I started Diwali by wearing colourful clothes.  Then later at night, around 7pm we start our puja to thank god for a wonderful year, since Diwali is also a new year in India. Then after we take gods blessing, we light diya lamps. Which are mini clay bowls with a triangle somewhere on the rim of it. You put oil in it and cotton wick is lit up.  After the best part comes!!!  Sweets!!!  Well it’s not the best part but the sweets and food are always to die for.  When we are all stuffed we go outside, and light up fireworks. And since Diwali is usually on the darkest night of the year, the fireworks show up beautifully.

What does Diwali mean to you?

To me Diwali means the beginning of the new year. Where in the dark, light is always found. It means to spend time with the ones  l love and if they’re not there that we will always be in each other’s heart.

What is your favourite part of Diwali?

My favourite part of Diwali is the fireworks. It`s a really beautiful sight to see all the light colours illuminating the dark sky.

Does Diwali have any similarity to Halloween or are they two completely different celebrations?

They have nothing in common, really. Diwali is more associated with Christmas and New Year.  Since it`s the new year in India, also though Diwali has nothing to do with Jesus, it`s the time of year where you put as  much lights up as possible.  You also get to exchange gifts and food!!:)


What do you do at your school for these celebrations? I ask because you have kids from all over the world at your school which makes it a very interesting place!

Last year, when I was in grade 8 we didn`t do anything to celebrate Diwali.  But this year, it was like this humongus celebration!!  They were giving out ladoo (sweet ball)  and there was Indian music and Indian food being sold for lunch… It was just amazing.

These are photos of Sunshine’s family altar which was set up for the Diwali prayers. If you look closely you can see all the care that went into setting up all the offerings and lamps.