Action Shots

I am finding that it is kind of hard to get good pictures of birds. Or of other creatures for that matter. They seem to be busy, not hanging around to pose or otherwise do what I want. Funny that! A friend who is a birder told me that when you are out birding you can take a camera, or you can take binoculars and watch, but in her experience  it is hard to do both well. Either way, one needs to be pretty still and not scare off the creature one is observing. There is of course the exception – when you go somewhere and the animals are aware that humans are a food source.

IMG_0750This raven came to within a couple of feet of where I was eating my sandwich. Unlike the crows I have tried to photograph, this fellow was unfazed by the camera lens, focussing more intently on my sandwich than anything else. Still careful, he did a side step  over to us, ready to fly at a moment’s notice but coming very near. Aren’t those feathers beautiful? This was in Manning Park, on a motorcycle ride last week. Usually it is the grey jays and the nutcrackers who have taken food out of our hands, this was a first, having a raven so near. It creates mixed feelings – wonderment at seeing a creature this closely, a bit sad to see how acclimated to human food these guys are.

IMG_0758And this fellow, well it must be early in the season, or maybe he was wary of the ravens, because he (or she) was a bit careful to not get too close. At this park sometimes the chipmunks will run up your leg to grab a piece of bread or trail mix. But perhaps he hasn’t yet learned that humans fall apart when confronted by the cute, and that he can take advantage of it. It is very likely better to be wary, for all concerned. We don’t tend to feed the animals when they come near as a rule, (other than the insistent grey jays)  nonetheless it is  kind of thrilling to see them up close. My summer plans include trying to get some bird and wildlife photos when we go hiking and camping later this month. With some luck and patience.

IMG_0732

On the weaving front, the ruana is finished. The Quebecoise yarn drapes wonderfully when washed, and I am really pleased with the result. This will make a great winter coat. (A bit incongruous posing in the sun with this thing, but oh well.) I am really grateful to Unni for all the help on this, there are a number of good lessons contained in this piece. Not the least patience and perseverance!

The silk and hand-spun scarf is also completed. I ran out of the light brown warp so the edges don’t match, but you can’t tell when it is worn. My gosh is silk lovely to work with. Kind of crazy as a beginner to use such materials I suppose but again, oh well. This really inspires me to keep weaving with my hand-spun too.

IMG_1684Reasons to be glad for rudimentary crochet skills – those somewhat wonky selvedges on both pieces. Hides a multitude of sins!

Sisters

Fresh from the post, this afghan in the most cheery colours imaginable has been claimed by the cats as very worthy. My sister Alison “whips these out” she says. Hmm, I suspect there is a bit more work than that involved. Though I remember one year when we were teenagers when she made about a dozen over the course of a long, cold winter. One of my ex-boyfriends from those long ago days is reported to still have his, a happy bumble bee striped black and yellow. I remember. (The afghan, not the boyfriend so much.)

Thank you Alison! I will wrestle the cats for this one. It is great.

(The portrait of those perfectly gorgeous women is from an old postcard. It came with the afghan in the mail yesterday. Sisters. Need one say more?)

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.)

3KCBWDAY2 Photography Challenge

And a challenge it is. I am not pre-planning these posts, I hope it doesn’t show too much. My personal challenge with this event is to just get home from work and sit down and type. To try to wing it, try to loosen up. Anyhow, I kept trying to figure out how to present a project that was in use. Something being worn, or being utilized in some way. I got some very awkward shots of hands wearing mitts, some supremely unflattering angles on a sweater. Trying too hard! When in doubt, go with the absolute cliché I guess. The  hand knit that gets the most use in this household is my wonky knit/crochet blanket made of leftovers. I blogged about it before, how much I loved it when it was done, but it is a tad embarrassing if one looks at it with an eye for the technical details. Still, you can’t argue with success.

A six pound cat weighs a TON when he is unwilling to move. This is what I compete with when I want to stretch out on the couch and read.

And the photo has a bit in common with the blanket itself. Not technically much, but serves a purpose, I hope. It conveys that sometimes function trumps form completely and that is good enough for me.

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 couple of finished projects.

This is a skein of my hand spun shetland, purchased locally this summer. My spinning was pretty rough, not my most elegant.   My inexpert assessment of fleece had me buying a lovely colour but missing the fact it was full of vegetable matter and broken bits. I really didn’t want it to be a lost cause and decided to try and create a bulky three ply, thick and thin and lumpy and I kind of like the end result after all.  There’s not a lot of it, maybe 40o metres and it would pill horribly as a garment but maybe it could be a really thick soft hat? We shall see. I chalk this up to a learning experience and thoroughly enjoyed it anyhow!

Now the shawl was fun. It’s a granny square shawl, accomplished by essentially crocheting half a granny square till you get dizzy from the miles of lace weight. It was a weird yarn, mill ends I think, there was no label. As far as I can tell it is bits of cotton in all sorts of colour plied with cotton or synthetic thread. It is quite pretty all done up. I edged it with some silk lace weight singles I had found a while ago in a weaving store. Lots of hours in this thing, but quite satisfying.


This urge to create has always been with me, and I am convinced it is a quality we all share. It went dormant for a lot of years, and again, I think this happens to a lot of people. What a shame if it never wakes up again. I went with a friend to a symposium done by a local shop and was amazed at the overflow crowd of interesting people, all gathered to hear a woman talk about the process of designing knitting. It was fun, just plain fun.

 

A quick post today, just felt like adding a bit of colour. 

A Bit of Knitting and Crochet, with Handspun…

I took a free form crochet class not so long ago and found it incredibly inspiring. It is always a challenge for me to “loosen up” and let go with my creativity and free form practice helps one  to do just that. I ended up making this up as I went and couldn’t help giggling my way through it, it was so much fun. It’s a combination of a rayon yarn, with some wool and baby alpaca tossed in and it was very freeing to work out. I found a vintage button that matches the gold of the yarn. I am a beginner crocheter, and it is a series of single and double crochet stitches all massed together and worked back on itself. I love this weird little scarf, and it’s too bad the weather here will never warrant it as it is very, very warm.
This wrap is hand spun from a wool and silk top that was given to me as a gift. The stripes that emerged were a happy accident, and they work well with the simple diagonal lace. I leave these two pieces, with a couple of others, hanging in the hallway. I rarely wear them, as there is really no need but it makes me happy to see the colours when I come in the door. Our home is a refuge, and we have consciously tried to decorate with items that have some personal meaning. A lot of what is on our walls and in our personal space was crafted by friends and family. In our hallway are two cross stitch pieces done by my sister – one that evokes the farm we grew up on, another is of a dearly loved old cat that she designed from a photo. Grant and I call our style  “hodge podge”, but it works. (I won’t quit my day job to be an interior decorator though…)