Medicine Buddha

D and Y came for tea yesterday and presented us with this gorgeous statue of the Medicine Buddha. It radiates peace, stillness and compassion. Like so much of Buddhism there are layers and layers of teaching here, but as always, it boils down to love. Typically the small bowl in the hands of the figure are depicted as holding healing herbs, and the flower shown could be seen as a symbol of what we know, without words at a very deep level, to be true. I was very moved by this gift, not only because it is so lovely, which it is, but because of the effort that D and Y put into finding it. The right thing, at exactly the right time.

The documenting of the city is still going on, every day after my visit downtown I have been walking some. This is the New Westminster Quay, a shot of the river which is still pretty high from the spring floods. This river has always been a busy thoroughfare, from long before these cities grew here. It doesn’t evoke the same sense of “smallness” in one that being in the mountains do, rather, at this point, a few miles from where it enters the Pacific, the Fraser is wide and deep and silty. It does not encourage dipping a hand in, all those boats and logs and industry, but it is very impressive.

Proof of knitting! These days stockinette is a treat. Going round and round on circular needles with black cotton yarn may not sound like anyone’s idea of fun but, strangely it was mine! Cloud Cotton with a stripe of my handspun cotton, done in the most basic of top down raglan style, and I am “tickled pink” as we say in these parts. It fits, (wow), it is soft, and until it is covered in cat hair and lint, looks pretty good if I do say so myself.  Picking cat hair off it will keep me occupied when say, waiting in line, or travelling in the car, or after I sit in any chair in our house. (Black, what was I thinking?)

And proof that yes, this is Vancouver. I was delighted when the barista handed me this roiboss latte the other day – just the little finishing touch, done with whimsy. Loved it!

This beautiful city, with simple crochet.

I have to “go into town” every day for the next few weeks, and as this involves a bit of rush hour driving and the (really minor) hassle of getting into the congested part of Vancouver, I thought I would make it even more worth while by exploring and appreciating this place. After twenty-six years here it could be that familiarity has bred, certainly not contempt, but maybe taking for granted what a lovely part of the world this is. We grumble here, it’s a cultural trait of Canadians, about the weather – “it’s so hot”, “the grey of this unceasing rain”, “good grief can no – one drive in snow?” (This is often said with a certain smugness, though I am uncomfortably aware of how many years it has been since I ever really had to drive in the stuff. But we have our little conceits.)

Over the course of the last week I explored the west side beaches again, and the area around Granville Island and tried to see it all with fresh eyes.

This is the place I fell in love with years ago when I moved from the north. It is hard to say which sustains more, ocean or mountain but sustain they do, when one looks beyond the everyday mind that thinks about “traffic, oh what a pain” and “will there be parking”, “oh what a hassle it is…” I guess it is a matter of looking up, not down! I won’t commit to taking pictures in different parks every week but will see how it goes.

The urge to fiddle with expensive string doesn’t go away in the heat, though it does change a bit. I love this pattern, found on Ravelry and generously offered for free. (It is worth looking at this person’s site, she is very talented.) It is a granny square crocheted shawl that I seem to fall back upon. What I love is that it uses up leftover yarn so well, and so prettily.

Yarns are leftover sock for the double and single crochet edging, and the centre granny squares are done in some Drops Alpaca that was an impulse sale purchase. It is such a simple thing to make, very soothing and quick. Into the gift pile it goes, to see who it wants to be with. (The problem with being a process needleworker, what to do with the final object. There are worse problems to solve.)

Colour Affection, Yet Again

I blogged about this shawl before, a very pretty project done by scads of people on Ravelry, and my disappointment when it just.didn’t.quite.work. I am not sure why I tackled it again, other than thinking five thousand plus people must know something I don’t, and this is the result.

And the artfully draped shot, obligatory with this shawl. (I use “artfully” with tongue in cheek. Knitwear is hard to photograph well.)

The yarns are a romney hand spun from our trip to Utah, some cashmere/merino from Galiano Island and some Drops Alpaca, all about fingering weight. I modified the pattern a fair bit, doing around half the increases to keep those long ends in check. I also tossed in some short rows in the first section, not many, but an effort to give it more depth. I could have done a few more but I didn’t want to risk getting it out of proportion too much. It wraps around my shoulders nicely and works as a scarf too. If I wear it around my shoulders it needs a shawl pin but that’s fine. Much better definition with solid colours too. This one will work. I still haven’t faced ripping out the first one, it sits in a sullen heap in my projects, but it will be looked after, for sure. Good yarn really shouldn’t go to naught. I am still not wildly enthusiastic about the shawl, but maybe it’s the heat. It may need to “marinate” a while, or maybe a perfect recipient will wander along…

It is great to be able to adapt.

Because Manning Park was just so wonderful in July, another shot of the wildflowers, plus our favourite hearty hiker, halfway up the First Brother Mountain.

Plying Wool in a Heatwave

It’s a bit hot here today.

For me, the best part of hand spinning is the plying of the singles to create the yarn. It has been said that plying can hide all manner of flaws, which I am sure is true, but what I love is the process of making something that exceeds the sum of its two, (or more for that matter) parts. When plied together the singles become stronger, and they show their personalities more clearly. This is some yak down/merino fibre that I purchased from Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts at the Fibres West show last year. It was spun semi – woolen, about light fingering weight. When made into a two ply the two singles twisted around each other and bloomed, into a lighter, airy and soft yarn that will make a great cowl or scarf. (There is about 250 metres total so scarf/cowl is the plan.) The actual process of plying is so soothing and hypnotic –  the yarn is just held, and allowed to twist and feed onto the wheel as it needs to be, with just a bit of overt guidance.  So, nutty as it is to be handling wool in this heat, the pace of the activity is actually just about right.

I bet the neighbours really scratch their heads when they see me out on our scorching hot deck trying to “pose” skeins of yarn in the cedars. Especially when I try to contort my foot so I can take a shot of the socks I am working on. Good old Regia yarn, great colours, sturdy socks, they will be perfect in, oh, about October.

I cannot help posting more of our Manning Park wildflower pictures. Honestly, it was the best show in years.

Merit Board

Two monasteries   “May the merit we accrue be offered to all beings.”

Scattered temples   “How are you?”

Catholic church in Winnipeg, the Sisters of St. Clare   “We pray…”

A poem…a note…a blog post…

A fierce man with an armload of flowers.

Loud laughter   “take care of those bits!”

Knitting lentil burgers, veggie stew delivered by bus, a laughing boy.

Chocolate brownies with extra sweetness baked into their heart.

A colleague, shy   “If you don’t mind, my energy work group chants…”

Email. Email. Email.

The call   “I care.”

“I love you, not just the shell you are in.”

“I love you, not just the shell you are in.”

“I love you, not just the shell you are in.”

Manning Park, July 2012.