Food Offerings and Memories

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The line ups for the food offerings went all around Second Beach.

Every year for the past few, I’ve been invited to the Chariot Festival by Sunshine’s family. Its a big festival for Hindu practitioners, and here in Vancouver two distinct groups are seen side by side. One of the groups is Krishna devotees, associated with ISKON and it seems people have come from all over the world to attend. The other group seems to be mostly South Asian Hindu, and the two groups seem to co-exist alright. I honestly don’t know how much overlap there is with these two groups, but the day seems to work. There is a parade, a deity is installed on a large altar and there are joyful chants in Sanskrit. Its a load of fun, loud and colourful, with music and dancing and faith. As I amble along looking at the riot of colour around me I hear many languages, including the the voice of the odd tourist who has come to Stanley Park to see it and by happenstance finds himself in the line for the food offering. It’s just great.
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This woman held the crowd speechless. Indian classical dance that transcended language. I got a shot of her head dress, isn’t it amazing work?

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Watching all the people dancing and singing with the kirtan a memory flooded my mind. Me and Grant at the Folk Festival at Jericho Beach a number of years ago. We were caught up in the music, and the two of us, a bit uptight, (well me anyhow) danced out in the open air. We briefly forget how we looked, and just danced – remembering how to move our bodies to the rhythm of live music, dancing in our own little bubble within a large happy crowd.

Sunshine and I went for a meal together last week, a special outing for the two of us. We talked about Grant and remembered. Sunshine is off on her next step soon. There is a lot going on this summer.

Elizabeth Zimmerman is a genius…

But we knew that.

Cascade Eco Wool gets good reviews on Rav and elsewhere. In the ongoing project to find the bottom of my yarn drawer it was fun to cast this on. I had two skeins of it in natural brown. Nice stuff, but you know I think I am turning into a snob. For knitting with natural sheep smelling yarn I think hand spun is the way to go. And that silly cliche about the yarn letting you know what it wants to be? In this case it was true – I literally cast on six times to try to knit up the Hand to Hand Aran by EZ. No way – the cables kept messing up, my count went off, the drape was just not right. (I hear a chorus saying “swatch” – I sort of did. But the attempts themselves turned out to be that swatch.) Finally, after the sixth cast on, which the yarn held up to quite well by the way, I went for simple. Garter stitch. Lots of garter stitch. And simple often proves to be the best way.

IMG_1828From Knit One, Knit All a mildly tweaked Adult Bavarian Jacket, without edging. This goes perfectly for the workplace. I don’t even mind the slight cropping of the length and the arms. Kind of minimalistic. Easy and gratifying to knit. Now I still have the urge for cables but with a different yarn. The Eco wool is soft and likely too soft for definition. The twist is looser than I would hand spin but I think the garter stitch at a slightly tighter gauge will keep it from pilling, based on the way it survived multiple cast ons and rip outs.

And another genius design from EZ is her very popular Pi Shawl. This hat is really just the Pi Shawl start-up, with 2×2 ribbing done at the appropriate place to make a hat. And – we have been long overdue for a Sunshine sighting!

IMG_1824A picture captured between the raindrops. From Stanley Park on a dark and stormy day. (We had fun anyway.)

Mikey and Sunshine – And a Reason to Celebrate

IMG_0602Well, lots of reasons to celebrate. Good friends, good weather, a great hike around Bunzten Lake. But there is one other really wonderful reason to celebrate – Sunshine’s achievement of a great academic scholarship. Sunshine we are all very proud of you!

I said before on the blog that the relationship between big and little sisters is reciprocal. These days I am so distracted by the loom and the fibre pursuits I forget how much I love a hike. How great that another person’s enthusiasm for a walk in the woods gets us all on the trail. The rainy season isn’t over here – there will be lots of Saturday afternoons to doodle around with the loom and I am appreciating letting things “be” so to speak, in terms of what I want to accomplish in terms of fibre craft. There were lots of people out and walking yesterday, all with similar expressions of “finally”- relief to see some sun after a long gloomy winter.

DSCN0089It didn’t seem right to exclude Grant from the record of our day. This is from last year but is completely typical. Give him a body of water and he hops right in. This is a view of Bunzten Lake from the public beach, at the beginning of the hike.

It was a tad warmer in July when this was taken. Yesterday, pretty chilly. Only Grant and a couple of kids dared go in. There may have been screeching.

A Bit of a Random Post

IMG_0110IMG_0104Sarasvati, portrayed here in this statue which was a gift from my teacher is known in both the Buddhist and the Hindu traditions. Her full meaning has more depth than I wish to go into here, (and more depth than I fully understand) but she is associated with a number of characteristics. She is known as a guardian of those who practise the dharma, and is appreciated in particular by those who practise the arts. She is often shown playing a stringed instrument, seated on a lotus. She is associated with flowing water – so many metaphors that point at what we do! Anyhow, this statue sits in the studio/spare room where I fuddle along with my projects. (The Hand of Fatima in the background is not Buddhist, it was also a gift and it seemed to co-exist just fine. If only people would co-exist without worry.) It seems important to carve out a bit of a space, however small and ordinary, to sit and spin and weave in peace. (The knitting goes everywhere.)

Sunshine and I walked the beach in the wind today. The eagles were out in great numbers, we counted at least a dozen soaring in the strong gusts. Sunshine is my sister, a chosen sister. It is, on the surface, not a likely pairing given our age differences and backgrounds. We met through the wonderful organization Big Sisters and by good fortune it has been a great match from the start. I think we both worried – what if we really don’t like each other? That worry fell away pretty quickly.

Mentorship manifests in so many ways and I don’t think we realize the impact a good part of the time. I asked my Aunt H if she remembered an embroidered table-cloth she made for me when I was about 14. She didn’t remember it at all, which is fine, but that little blue checked cloth had a significant impact. It was hand-made. It was made specifically for me, a kid who often felt unseen and awkward. It went from place to place as I moved into the adult world and it was a bit of a wrench when it was finally discarded, stained and well used. It gave an intangible gift along with its simple function.

The Big/Little friendship is reciprocal – it is definitely not one “doing things for” the other. We do activities I might forget to do otherwise – walking on the beach admiring the eagles, and cracking each other up.

IMG_0094There is an experiment going on with the weaving. A friend gave me roughly 9,000 metres of wool singles on cones that she came across. I am not sure how this will wash and feel off the loom but it seemed a good time to stretch a bit and think about looms. The rigid heddle is fast to warp, easy to use and there is a lot of room to move with different warp structures, using pick up and a second heddle. Years of stuff to learn. I like the loaner loom from the class, but am not yet convinced, three warps later, that the fussiness of getting it warped and going is actually worth it for what I wish to make. (It’s noisy too and that may be adversely effecting the joy of use. I know that is a totally fixable issue with swapping out the heddles. Listen to me, I sound like I know what I am talking about!) Anyhow, with this enormous amount of free yarn I can run the two looms sort of simultaneously. I am not committing to anything but this is a good opportunity to see what direction I enjoy best. I am looking forward to finishing up this yardage of 3/1 lace on the rigid heddle. I warped it putting two ends in each hole/slot so it is technically a kind of basket weave I guess. I really hope I can use this for more than yet another scarf. And I promised my husband to not cover every inch of space in our house in cozies.

IMG_0097Garland found at the Punjabi market here. Purchased for no reason other than its sheer exuberance.

Still Looking at the City, Favoured Knit and Remembrance Day

The unofficial “looking at this city with fresh eyes” project is still going on, with no real end date in sight. It’s been fun, not to mention has contributed to the lessening of a general sense of restlessness over the past couple of years. We often think there is someplace better than where one is at – at least I do, quite regularly. It sometimes takes a shift of focus, or life itself giving a nudge to remind that it really isn’t better anywhere than right here.

This guy has such natural dignity. He (or she for that matter, how do you tell on a sleepy heron?) was sitting quietly on a fish boat when I walked by and I couldn’t resist. This is from the New Westminster Quay again, from a sunny respite from rain a couple of days ago.

As I wrote before, the Fraser is a working river and seeing tugs is a common sight.

On the knitting front the Pi Shawl is still chugging along. It doesn’t look like much now, as all lace does, kind of a lumpy mass so I won’t bother posting a picture. The colder weather made me haul out some sweaters though, and I found this, my first sweater made from scratch, from my earliest handspun.

Technically, this is no masterwork, to say the least. The fibre is a mystery to me, I wasn’t choosing with discrimination back in the day. Soft, shortish fibres of some sheep or other. The thick two ply yarn is pilling like mad, and it is clear that I ran out of the brown and had to fill in with a blend I had on hand. Too many buttons! Saggy button holes and button band, that lumpy stretched out ribbing…It is easy to fall into criticizing but to tell the truth I can’t stay in that attitude. Sure, I wear this only in the house, but until it falls apart, it will get good love. The fair isle was spun with yarns from a dye class, and the yellow, dyed with lichen smells incredibly good, especially as it warms to body heat. This was my very first steek and this project made it clear that steeking is not only easy, it is actually fun. Cutting one’s knitting is not the huge deal it can be made out to be. And while the fit is, well, awkward, for my body type, this sweater is warm and soft, and actually works well as long as baggy pyjama or sweat pants are worn with it, finished with woollen socks. Does it get better than that on a winter day?

Sunshine was by last night. At one point during dinner the conversation moved to the meaning of Remembrance Day, and why we observe silence to offer compassion to all those who have been killed and effected by war, everywhere. Wouldn’t it be something if Sunshine’s generation saw us get our act together, as a species?