Sewing as a Kind of Practice.


In our particular practice after the first meditation of the day we place a small vestment on our heads and recite a short set of words. Those who have formally taken the Buddhist precepts in our tradition do at least. Other Buddhists do it other ways.

Anyhow, when its done in our tradition, this taking of the Precepts formally, the small vestment called a wagesa is given to the person as part of a ceremony. When I received mine, I didn’t give much thought to where the wagesa came from. I had my mind on other things. I’ve never forgotten the kind eyes of the monk who gave it to me and placed it around my neck – “come a little closer” he said. I think he just needed to get at my neck, I was sitting a bit back but honestly, those words have stuck, and they have been taken as a teaching too.


I have bemoaned my sewing skills on this blog in the past. And frankly I doubt I have the interest to follow up on this. I have had opportunities do more sewing and it seems I would rather spend the time on new knitting techniques, learning to weave, doing other things.

Wagesas though, are essentially long slim tubes. Straight lines, a bit of ironing. And within this simple sewing it is interesting how the whole gamut of daily life, how thoughts come and go through my poor old brain as I sew.

These objects are cared for deeply. When somebody makes the decision to take the Precepts formally its a big deal. I can’t even begin to imagine what goes through someone’s mind when they do this. All I know is how momentous it was for me, with reverberations continuing to this day.

I have been offered help on the knots – they are Chinese knots of eternity. Not that hard to make, but a bit tougher to connect and sew onto the wagesa so they look tidy and dignified.


Sewing this morning was good. I wonder who made my wagesa all those years ago.

Found Objects

ImageThis has travelled bit. Hopefully its owner isn’t too upset at its loss. From the wander at Crescent Beach this past weekend.  There is always something interesting. This was clearly propped up by other wanderers. (This beach is not likely to receive much debris from the Japanese tsunami, there are many landforms between here and there. At least that is what local media are saying around stuff washing up on the beaches of the gulf islands and Vancouver Island. The bike’s travels likely started out much more locally.)

While yet one more knitted hat blocks and dries, a look into the stash bin revealed some woven bits that were waiting to be made into something. I found some stuff from back at the beginning of my rigid heddle play.

IMG_1749A quick zip of the sewing machine and this strip of plain weave cotton fabric becomes six wash cloths. Warp is…something…weft is hand spun organic cotton, done up as a two ply. Very soft, next to skin soft. Hopefully they will continue to shrink as they are washed – other experiments in plain weave and cotton seem to do so.

IMG_1752A bit of saori style weaving with different remnents of handpsun wools and silks. Turning it into a cowl minimizes the various width and gauge changes – sheer luck that the piece was just the right size. I blame Mason -Dixon Knitting for reviving the cowl idea. While this might be a gift, I keep wearing it around the house…

Another found item – a very simple recipe for rosemary and olive oil shortbread. This might be the perfect activity for another cold day here. Not just winter coming, oh yes, that holiday, oh what’s it called? It’s on its way too…

Woven “Boyfriend Sweater”

IMG_1413This was another experiment. The idea of a shrug has been perambulating about my head for a while. It seems ideal as a cover up for a person of a certain age, who needs a bit of warmth, but with vents for those occasional blasts of personal heat! The materials for this were very inexpensive, some unlabeled cotton and weird boucle yarn that seemed to go together. The fabric is a bit sleazy, and may not hold up, though as long as the cats don’t get too friendly – they like to get my attention sometimes by pick, pick picking at my arm, time for a treat – it should be OK. Sort of like a sewn together shawl rather than a boyfriend sweater really. It is just that it is kind of shapeless and comforting to put on. Just like wearing someone else’s sweater.  Thank you interwebs – any kind of old 70’s “sew your weaving” pattern you can dream up is there in living colour. Or is it the 80’s? Making garments from big squares, whatever decade that was.  (No, I did NOT put shoulder pads in this. And no, I will likely not wear this out of my house.  And like the blue vest, it has been two days and the arms haven’t fallen off yet. Phew. )

IMG_1318Still showing off from our Rockies trip. This is Eva Lake, in Mount Revelstoke National Park. Oh we had a wonderful trip!


IMG_1350A weaving and sewing milestone. Real sewists please do not look too closely. This is a wee vest for wearing under my motorcycle jacket. That ubiquitous blue yarn, woven into a honeycomb twill, according to my book. Then, using a Saori book I found in a used bookstore as instruction I took scissors in hand and cut. Zig zagged the seams, and look at that, a curved neckline. Whoo hoo. I considered overdyeing the yarn, but honestly, whatever it is covered in to make it “moth proof” will likely make it hard to overdye, short of some kind of chemical blasting and then it would likely felt.  Turquoise ? Sure, that’s it, and it must have been a colour of the year at SOME point. What I love about this is the drape, and lightness of the fabric, and it’s sturdiness. I have already worn it on the bike and it works really well to keep me warm without bulk.  So – don’t mess with a woman on a motorcycle. This will work.  (And it didn’t spontaneously fall apart when worn, always a fear in the back of my mind. I am past that with most of the handknits; when I made my first few sweaters I would wear them in the house for a while before taking them out into the wild. If the arms suddenly fell off, well that would be a problem wouldn’t it? Ah confidence.)

IMG_1336And now for a blue that IS found in nature! This jay was pretty annoyed with me I suspect, I followed him all over the place trying to get a good shot.  From our holiday in September.

Bits and Pieces

IMG_1044Cushion covers waiting for filling and some sachets filled with cedar shavings. It might be the line of work I do, but once I reach a certain saturation of bits and pieces in my so-called “craft studio”, it is time to use them for something and move them along. I am a bit sensitized to hoarding! The cushion covers were made from my first  weaving attempt with the Jane, which resulted in a less than satisfying shawl. (Much better in this form.) They are mohair and hand spun wool done in twills, while two of the sachets were made with some of the samples from the same project. The other two sachets are from the “ubiquitous  blue” series of  samples.

There are some amazing (shocking?) photos of stashes on Ravelry and elsewhere. It is understandable that the stashes get out of control in a way, given how many materials are needed to do some of these fibre crafts. I joke that I won’t get dementia, I am always trying to sort out new ways of organizing my space. Once a certain bin starts to get too full, I get nervous! And then the cycle begins again, in terms of where do the finished objects go? There are plans for these things at least.

In my work life I have occasion to enter homes of hoarders. No two places have been the same, but the same theme runs through – the clinging to the objects in the home, regardless of whether they are obviously useful or not, and the sheer strength of the hanging on. It can be  profoundly traumatic to intervene, both for the person having to give up the stuff, and for those who have to watch.  By the time people like me have been called, the situation is often out of hand and clearing up must be done in the name of public health and safety. This is one of the harder parts of the job.

And that is one of many reasons heading off to the mountains is good! The air is clear, the task of walking is physical and demanding, and the body is tired, and not from the tasks of the mind and heart.  There are all types of people who work in health care, you can’t generalize. But I sure know a lot of them who head for quiet whenever they can, even for a short time, just to recharge.


View of Mt. Baker from up on Welcome Pass.

Heathers, lupines, tiger lilies, avalanche lilies, fawn lilies – those were just the ones whose names I knew. This is the prime time for wildflowers up high.

IMG_0876Pretty hey?

Fear of the Scissors, Or Trying Not to be Too Precious About This…

DSCN1040My father would say, when working on some project or another, “You have to be smarter than the hammer.” You could take that a number of ways I guess but for me, it reduced the anxiety around the work being done. Those words gave the project a bit of perspective. Now, my dad was a bit famous for his improvised repair work. Ask my sister about the mud flaps he added to her car when she was a teenager. They worked, oh yes they did – but to an image conscious teenager enormous piano hinged flappy things on the back of her cute little car were a burden to bear. Mom and I were talking about family last night, and that conversation reminded me of these things.

I have seen enormously talented people become paralyzed by the perceived need for perfection. (I go the other way, I can be selectively blind to sloppy workmanship on my part just to get something done. There is of course a middle way with this.)

Anyhow, even when the delight in making something makes me want to hang onto it, to not cut it or otherwise risk finishing a piece is an error, at least for me. I try to think of my dad’s perspective. “I have got to be smarter than the yarn.”

The cloth made from the three cottons is pretty. I sewed together a basic vest, and absolutely don’t care for it. Not a catastrophe because it was a simple pattern, three rectangles really. So, fussing around with a smaller piece I made yet again a small pouch. Lined it with fleece fabric from some leftovers from years ago and stuck a button on it. Seems the cloth prefers that. OK then.

We have had a stretch of cold (ish) weather around here, getting below freezing. Walks are a joy.


Frozen droplets in the park.

DSCN1025Bits of snow in the rain forest.

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:))”