Blogs That Inspire

I had the nicest email notification the other day. Agulas Blog had nominated warpandwoof for a Beautiful Blog award. As well, this lovely blogger has been nice enough to leave the odd comment and it tickles me no end that people “over there” are looking in once in a while. (It still amazes me that anyone other than family I have coerced into following this are reading. Hi Mom!) I struggled with finding fifteen blogs to recommend, which is one of the rules of the award. I spend lots of time surfing the net, it has taken the place of random TV surfing I guess, but don’t really have a lot of places I return to all the time. Instead of the fifteen I thought I would link to the blogs that inspire me regularly and explain why. (And I really do recommend looking at Agula’s blog. One of the reasons I like it so much is that she is learning hand-spinning and takes wonderful pictures of her work. Her words are thoughtful, as are the posts that don’t directly link to her hand-spun, and the emphasis on beautiful colour is striking. I really enjoy popping in.

I must feature Sunshine’s blog again, A Thousand Books and Still Going. Sunshine has a passion for reading and for colour too. She also inspires me to try new things, as she is fearless about changing formats, adding widgets, linking to videos, creating pages. I regularly ask her “how did you do that?”  I know, total cliché but it is great to have a savvy kid around for computer questions! Her voice is clear, how great. Many people don’t find a voice till they are much older, let alone take the leap to put it “out there” on the web.

Personal inspiration comes from Jade Mountains, a blog written by one of the monks of our Order. Rev. Mugo was a real trailblazer with her blog, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the first Buddhist blogs of its kind. Her posts are always reminders of what we are about in this life. Jade Mountains has provided comfort, support and the encouragement to carry on and I read it regularly.

Rev. Mugo linked to really great blog a few years ago, one of the first I ever did subscribe to. While it is written by an emergency room nurse, the themes are universal and Impacted Nurse opens a revealing window onto health care. I work as a nurse in a very different setting, but I have forwarded posts and poems and articles from this site to both nursing and non-nursing friends. Funny, moving, dark, it is all there.

So, while not fifteen, I focussed on quality not quantity, how’s that? I am also supposed to write a bunch of random things about myself as part of the BB award. I am going to stretch the rules on that one too! Warp and woof is kind of doing that all the time, showing random bits of daily life, and I am happy to keep it that way. The seven random things will emerge over time, if they haven’t already!

Random fact about me: I am terrible at remembering bird species. I THINK this is a golden headed black bird! This is from our Princeton trip two weeks ago. There were dozens of these guys, all singing at the top of their lungs in the rain.

Rest and Restoration

So, it was a full and very restful week. We started at Dragon Flower Mountain and attended a beautiful ceremony dedicated to Kwan Yin, Compassion, in memory of the many  Chinese people who worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1800’s.   A lot of history, a lot of very difficult circumstances. It was good to offer chants and incense to all beings. And really good to spend time with the monastic community there.

It was fitting that en-route we managed to walk a trail in the Fraser Canyon that was the remains of a very ancient First Nations trail, then used by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a fur trading route. Walking there was only a faint echo of what it would be like for those that used this route in the past. This was an alternate route above the Fraser Canyon walls, which were a dangerous traverse.

After the ceremony we spent time with a friend and his companion, Kali. The wildflowers were at their peak I think.

Then on to our friend’s cabin near Princeton. The wildlife that showed itself to us this trip included a couple of black bear, a moose that we watched swimming and feeding in a pond and countless deer and birds. Every morning we watched “Chipmunk TV” – a group of chipmunks in the woodpile near the cabin. I think I could comment, (likely not accurately) on the dominance and feeding patterns of the common chipmunk after a week of this! No good pictures, too bad about the moose ones in particular, they came out blurry. It could be that we were kind of excited.

Now, what does one knit in these circumstances? Something requiring little concentration, as I was watching chipmunks after all. These mitts are made from yarn brought to Canada from Hong Kong by a friend over twenty years ago, which languished in a closet all that time till she gave it to me. The yarn is a mystery blend of alpaca and wool and has a coppery undertone. These feel really supportive to wrists that spend a bit too much time tapping away on keyboards.

Overheard Conversation

One hears the most revealing things sometimes. I was at Dr. B’s office a few weeks ago for a physical, and it always involves a long wait. Usually I listen to podcasts or read to spend the time, it is kind of free time, when I don’t have to do anything but hang around. Dr. B’s office is in the heart of a busy east side neighbourhood and she sees a lot of older people who have moved to Canada from all over the world.  (I have been going to see her for a long time, and like to people watch too.) The  office is pretty small and pretty noisy and we all sometimes hear maybe a bit more than we should, though I can tell everyone who works there tries to be discreet and professional. Flipping through a Chatelaine magazine from 2006 I heard the following:

“Did A. get the message that she needs to come and see me?”

“Yes, but she has to look after ______” (I don’t want to put anything remotely identifiable in here. Take my word, it had to do with a lot of caregiving a loved one.)

“Oh that’s right, she has so much to look after right now. (Pause.) OK, I will go and see her at her house. I don’t want her to misunderstand this ________.”

There was more, but what impressed me was the fact that this patient was known, and her situation was appreciated. Being known, isn’t that what helps when one is scared, or sick?

I am terrible at remembering anniversary dates, and don’t send Christmas cards anymore. Email has taken over as the main way to communicate and that is fine, it works very well. During the Christmas season though, Dr. B’s tiny little reception area is full of cards and baking, which is very telling about the age of many of the patients she treats, and how people feel about her care. Over the course of the almost twenty years I have known this physician I have seen the office decorated this way quite a few times but rarely sent a card myself, I just don’t think of it.  (This does relate to knitting! ) Just in time for summer, completely outside the holiday season, I think I will stick these great wool socks in an envelope.

The sheer ludicrousness of sticking knitting into a plant pot and trying to take a picture of it has not escaped me.




In Which I Jump on a Bandwagon, with a bit of a Thud.

There is a beautiful shawl that a great number of people are making these days. It is called Colour Affection and there are literally thousands of projects on Ravelry. Don’t get me wrong, I think this thing is gorgeous. And I don’t usually buy patterns, because heaven knows I have a pretty hefty collection of books and magazines. I also love trying to figure out my own designs and think the Elizabeth Zimmerman approach to knitting is what speaks to me. (Jump in fearlessly, she reiterated  over and over in her books, in many different ways. Knitting Without Tears made me try stuff I never would have otherwise, and I am lucky to have stumbled upon this classic early in my knitting education.) Back to the Colour Affection. Lovely  shawl, beautifully presented.  I treated myself to a rare purchased pattern, downloaded and cast it on. And knit, and knit and knit. It is miles of garter stitch. I considered myself pretty smart with the colour choices, and was even a bit smug as I was re-using yarn from something that hadn’t worked out in the past, so thrifty was I!

I finished it, cast off and blocked it. And then my befuddlement began. I am not tall. Nor am I particularly “willowy” in stature. And I freely admit I am not a real “shawl person” though I do aspire. I tried and tried to sort out what was not quite on. Googling Colour Affection and images revealed an interesting pattern. Most shots appeared to be of people standing like a super hero arranging her cape, preparing to fly. Lots of shots of the shawl folded attractively or hanging off of wooden benches in the spring sunshine. To be fair some people, the minority of pictures, are wearing it in the images I saw, but that is where I started to suspect “taller” and maybe “willowy” may be a factor in this pattern’s success. Many of the projects are downright beautiful pieces of fabric. Mine, it’s kind of “meh”. And I cannot, for the life of me, make it wearable. Even when I emulated those people wearing it, as soon as I stride off across my living room, it slides and bunches and the ends come down to my knees. And speaking of those ends, where do I stick them?

I have a plan. A knitter always does.

This shawl gets to sit in a little folded pile for a while. Then, when I can face it again, I will rip it out. The pattern is very ingenious in its simplicity and not too hard to adapt I think. I will re-do this thing, make it smaller. Re-evaluate the colours I chose when the trauma fades. Make do, reuse, all that. And then, take a picture of it BEING WORN!! (Maybe not by me.)

This is a knitting blog, and this is what knitters do!