Monday, September 11, 2017

More Haida Gwaii Adventures

We've been busy since last time I had a chance to post! I left you with the bear story but we missed the fact that there was actually another one in the forest near the trail where we walked. The dogs knew! Luckily we didn't see it but someone else did. Guess it didn't want a dog-snack. Whew.

The next day was gorgeous and sunny so we all took the skiff (dogs too!) out to a couple of the little islands that dot the bay at the south end of Graham Island. Tide was out and it was fun to walk around a whole island in less than 15 minutes.

Thom and I wanted to spend some time camping in Naikoon Provincial Park so we headed up first to the Misty Meadows campground near Tlell on the east side of the island.

The remains of the Pesuta wreck was just visible over there on that far beach but I don't think you can see it in this photo. You can see it was a a pretty nice couple of days here. Our campsite was in the woods in the lee of the dunes. We made a friend:

A lovely big black slug named Billy (Which Way You Goin', Billy?) that travelled the full length of our campsite and snuggled up on our rug for a visit.

Next we headed for Masset and then right on Tow Hill Road to North Beach. We ended up with a fabulous campsite on Agate Beach with this view:

We were serenaded by the waves and got in lots of walks on the beach.

That's Tow Hill in the background and great tidepooling at this end at Yakan Point. I like the way the waves tuck shells into every crevice:

And the cool sculptured sandstone rocks:

Of course we also climbed up the very nicely finished trail to the top of Tow Hill:

It's a bit of a climb but the view is totally worth it:

You can't quite see our campsite in the trees but it's just past that white trailer. I thought it didn't get much better than this! But...

My sister and bro-in-law were celebrating their wedding anniversary so they rented a cabin just down the road. We got to walk on their beach too (you can see it past Yakan Point there in the last photo) and then we took them out to dinner in Masset at the ritziest restaurant in Haida Gwaii, Charters. Yum! And that's not all - the next evening we all went to my sister's friend's funky hand-built house near Masset for another delicious dinner. Everyone has been so kind here. (I didn't even tell you about the outdoor party we went to in Charlotte last week with tonnes of food and a live band, did I?)

We were going to stay one last day on North Beach but it rained all day so we headed back south to Charlotte and a hot shower. Today is mostly sunny (with a few sprinkles just for fun) so we're drying out and cleaning up before our ferry trip back to Prince Rupert tomorrow where we will wait for our Inside Passage sailing on Thursday. Chances are we won't have any more wifi unless the connection in Port Hardy works as advertised. Not holding my breath but you never know. Oddly enough I'm reluctant to leave here. Can't guess why. Hah.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Hello From Haida Gwaii!


I'm here on my sister and brother-in-law's lovely deck looking at this view. Nice huh? The sun even came out for a few minutes!

We had a fairly uneventful trip to Prince Rupert. We only saw one forest fire off in the distance near Kamloops and never smelled any smoke - except for the campfires that they started allowing after they removed the campfire ban. Bleh. The provincial park campgrounds are pretty empty though so it wasn't nearly as bad as if they were full. I guess many people have been staying home instead of venturing into the BC interior, afraid of running into forest fires and closed roads. The weather was quite hot and sunny until we got to Prince Rupert. The drive along the Skeena River west from Terrace was as spectacular as I remember, especially with the wisps of fog decorating the mountains. So pretty.

However - you guessed it - the minute we got to our campsite at Prudhomme Lake Provincial Park it started to absolutely pour rain! I totally wished I could send it south to my parched garden. We ended up spending the rest of the day holed up in the van and the next day headed for the ferry wharf...

...where we waited to load on the ferry. And waited...and waited...

The Northern Adventurer finally left 1-3/4 hours late. We were already on Island Time! To be fair they booted it and made it into Skidegate at the scheduled time so we could have dinner at my sister's. We even saw whales off the ferry before we got out into Hecate Strait.

The weather has been rather changeable ever since. We went for a walk yesterday with my sister and her 3 little dogs down by the shore between islands:

This is near the mouth of the Trundl River and on the other side, past my sister and her dogs over there by the trees, was..

...a bear! We nonchalantly turned about and headed back the way we came and it didn't pay us any mind. Whew!

So we're hanging about here until perhaps Monday when we'll head up north to Masset and the Agate Beach campground. So relaxing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sun Sun Sun

Well, here we are! Were you able to see at least some of the eclipse yesterday? We got 85% of it here in Vancouver. Though it got a bit darker and the temperature dropped significantly, the sun was still shining enough not to look too wonky. (No, of course I didn't look with my bare eyeballs.) I think the best part for us was the shadows cast by the trees:

Nobody mentioned this was going to happen! I think the spaces between the leaves acted like pinhole cameras and allowed you to see more of the occlusion. It was very magical!

So, what else? I've been packing up my knitting to take with us on the September Trek. One can never have too much knitting along. I usually err on the side of enough for about 3 times as long as I'll be away. You know - just in case I'm faster at finishing things than I think I am. There's also the issue of what can I knit while we're driving and what more complex project needs to be saved for peacefully sitting under a tree. I've already finished one pair of my Rose City Rollers shortie socks. The colours seem to go with everything:

I had exactly enough of this Regia sock yarn left to make another pair. I'm just at the gussets now.

And I couldn't help starting my self-designed Combers Tunic/Dress:

I showed you all the colours I'm using in the last post, 3 of them come that way from Craftsy and 3 of them are the Oatmeal Heather (near-white) that I dyed recently. I had a great time inventing the chart that I'm using! The comber wave is from Alice Starmore and the rest I made up using the Knit Visualizer program on my desktop computer. There's a ring of suns, snow-capped mountains, fir trees, giant comber waves, and finally some smaller curls of spray. I wasn't sure it was going to work but I think it's looking okay. So far at least.

I'm also using the Salish Knitting technique that I learned from Sylvia Olsen when I was at the ANWG conference in Victoria. It looks very "pebbly" as she calls it on the back side:

Look, ma! No long floats! My tension is a little lumpy but it should smooth out somewhat after blocking. Unlike my instructor, I'm knitting it 2-handed: Continental with the left and English with the right. It took me awhile to regain my English knitting skills since I haven't knit that way for years but now I'm remembering and getting faster and with better tension. Sylvia uses only right-handed moves and drops the yarns between colours. There are many ways to achieve the same end, yes? I wonder if it can be done flat, intertwining on the purl side? I'll have to experiment. I don't like to steek because I hate cutting the yarn though that may be the only way to do the pockets that I have in mind for this project. We shall see.

There's 3 more projects in my knitting bag too but they are holding off until I finish the Comber. I'm hoping to be past the yoke and on to the stockinette body before we leave but you never know. I have a lot of stuff to do between now and Sunday.

To that end, I decided that I needed to get a bit more organised and especially to have one place to record what's coming up next and where everything is that I need, both physically and digitally. Also a place to put random ideas and thoughts that come up because, darn it, I usually forget those little details too quickly these days. So I've gone analog! (Quit laughing, you.) On advice from a couple of converts, I'm trying the Bullet Journal system. What I like best is that you don't need anything more complicated than a notebook and pen:

My notebook was made by my friend Heather (True Stitches) and the pencil case is one I made ages ago. The Bullet Journal is really simple, adaptable and yet powerful. I've only just started but so far it's working pretty well for me, but I think it will take awhile to figure out what I need and what sticks. The beauty of it is that it doesn't matter. If I find something isn't right, I just turn the page and try something else. I'm not a student or a business person so I'm definitely not going to need to fill in as much as some people. My life is actually pretty simple! When I run out of space in my little notebook, I'll make a new one. You didn't think I was going to buy one, did you? I can incorporate bookmarks and a closure. Maybe a pen holder. Meanwhile we'll see if I can keep at it long enough to fill up this one!

So, what else do I have to tell you? Oh yeah. I finally broke down and opened my plant-printed linen napkin that I made at the last Spectrum meeting:

The perennial coreopsis prints very nicely and I love the unexpected blue that I got from the smoke bush! The main yellows are butterfly bush and the Japanese indigo leaves barely printed anything at all. Poor things. This napkin will be cut up and incorporated into a sewing project later this fall. Oh, and I bought another variety of perennial coreopsis to plant in the dye garden:

It's name is "Enchanted Eve" and it's so pretty! Also it was on sale at the garden store. Heh. Hope it survives the winter better than my grandiflora did. We shall find out, won't we? I'm controlling my urge to pick the flowers to dry for dye yet before the baby gets established.

Hope that's everything I've been saving up! I don't know if I'll have a chance to blog again before we leave but I'll try to at least get out a quickie. BTW the roads are open now but we're still going the long way around to Prince Rupert through Valemount to avoid some of the horrible smoke. So much of BC is just ashes. Ugh. Worst forestfire year ever.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dyed & Gone To...

Well that was a busy time since my last post! On Wednesday I was lucky to get a ride with friends over to West Vancouver to watch the Slow Clothes: The Art of Fashion show. It was a showcase presented by Wearable Arts Vancouver and featured one-of-a-kind and limited production garments, accessories and jewelry. There was quite a range of styles and the models were much more diverse than you would usually find and also including 3 handsome young men. (They of course got a rave reception from the crowd of mainly older women!) Among the fabulous outfits I saw several simpler pieces that I would wear myself. If they fit me! But I just browsed the tables and booths set up after the show and of course didn't buy anything. Instead these days I seem to be totally focussed on materials to make my own.

To wit: more mad dyeing has ensued! On Thursday a couple of my friends from our Spectrum Study Group came over and we played with my walnut dye. If I can't eat the darn things (thank you, evil squirrels) at least I can dye with them, no? I had collected the walnuts over the past several weeks in a bucket of water left outside on the deck to bubble and ferment. I simmered them for an hour and then left them overnight to stew and the next morning simmered them again. We used the pot without taking out the nuts and managed to get some pretty strong colours:

My contact-dyed (aka eco-dye) linen napkin is still waiting to be unveiled but this is what it looked like with the plant parts on it:

There's an orange buddleia (butterfly bush), some bronze cotinus (smoke bush), sprigs of threadleaf coreopsis (tickseed) and a few leaves of my pathetic Japanese indigo. It was folded, wrapped on the stick and tied with string and then plopped into the walnut pot for a simmer. More on this one in a future post.

The red-brown wool up there in the first photo was a definite surprise. It was originally a pale oatmeal colour and was mordanted in alum/cream of tartar and I only dipped it into the walnut pot for a bare moment! I thought I might get a tan but this colour is so much better. It will go together with more of that Cloudborn Highland yarn in a future yoke sweater project.

As if that wasn't enough dyeing, I also chopped up some of the stems and flowers of my dyers coreopsis:

I've had this plant for several years and never yet tested its colour potential. I've already harvested and dried a few small bags of just the flower heads but the aphid situation stopped me for several weeks. Now the clump is putting out new flower heads and the aphids seem to be much reduced so I thought I would see what I could get from the whole plant tops:

They were subjected to my usual technique of simmering for an hour and left overnight then the plant matter removed and brought back up to a simmer the next day. Yellow! A lovely soft butter yellow, not quite as intense as weld gives. I had previously decided to finish my skeins off with an iron modifier so just one wee little teaspoonful of iron sulphate gave me:

Green! A nice medium value sage green that's a little brighter and warmer than the weld/iron on linen I dyed previously. I'm very happy with this colour and already have tunic sweater plans since I have five 400-yard skeins. This is Cloudborn Wool Fingering Twist and, yes, I'm currently obsessed with this yarn brand from Craftsy. It's lovely stuff. And I also dyed another small skein of the Highland Fingering in this green too. That's the full palette for the Yoke Sweater project now. I need to get to work and design it!

Then this Cloudborn Merino Sock Twist was dyed in 2 different leftover dye pots before I disposed of them in the compost. The lighter peachy-tan section was dipped in the (starting to mould) cutch/madder pot from a couple of weeks ago. And the darker section was dipped in the walnut pot. There was sadly still a fair amount of colour left in both pots but I wasn't able to keep them until I had more things to dye. So out they went.

Oh and I nearly forgot the 3 skeins of Fingering Twist that I tested out some of the extremely elderly synthetic acid dyes on:

Guess what? All of them worked just fine and the dyebath cleared perfectly. Sheesh. Seems that I can't really justify throwing them out if they're going to work properly. There's too much to easily use up though and I'm reluctant to give them away just in case some of them actually are non-functional. A dilemma.

Okey-doke. I'm done with dyeing now for awhile. It was great to have the campstove outdoors with the clothesline up and all. The ability to drip and splash without worrying about the consequences was fun! Also easy to dump the nastier stuff in the driveway and the plant material in the compost. It was nice to keep the heat and smells out of the house too. (Though I admit to liking the interesting scents of most of the natural dyes, except rhubarb and lac - neither of which I used this time.) I now have lots of projects both sewing and knitting ready to keep me occupied this fall and probably on into the winter.

Next project - cleaning and packing for the September Trek. Only 2 weeks to go before we leave. The weather has finally cooled down a little and it actually rained some last night. Yay, no watering today! The garden is winding down with only the last of the beans, tiny cucumbers and zucchini plus the now-finally-ripening tomatoes left. At least we can bring some produce with us because we aren't crossing the border this time. Otherwise everything has to be used or preserved or my kids will come by and abscond with whatever is left! Assuming the squirrels, rats and raccoons don't get it first.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

A New Month

Hello-hello! Yup, I'm still here. Turned out that that one day of sprinkles we had was just an abberation and it's been sunny ever since. In fact, it's getting even hotter. That means several things for us. For starters, we are having to water our garden constantly. That gets old pretty quickly! Today we woke up to lemon-coloured skies and a high haze from the interior forest fires. We're still on tenterhooks as to how we are getting up to Prince Rupert by the end of the month to catch our ferry to Haida Gwaii. They keep opening and closing critical highways and one of the provincial parks we wanted to camp on the way is also closed. I'd really like to avoid going the long way around. It's a very VERY long way! BC is a big province.

It's also not very comfortable in my studio even with the fan on so I've been doing things on the shady deck instead. Thom fixed my old propane camp stove so I can use it for mordanting and dyeing fabrics:

This pot is a mix of the last of my cutch and madder from deepest stash, found when I cleaned up the dye cupboard. Still had plenty of colour in it! I also used up some really red sandalwood that had been "marinating" for a number of years and some old bags of home-grown weld:

I'm quite pleased with the colours even though the sandalwood was fairly pale on the linen canvas. It had already been used once though so that was to be expected. I really love the olive green from weld with iron modifier on the lighter weight linen. And the madder/cutch gave pretty good colour on the larger piece of canvas. They all magically go together even though I wasn't planning on making a complete outfit.

I also mordanted the wool knit fabrics I got back in March and put the heavy interlock in the madder/cutch exhaust bath but you'll have to wait until I've finished it to show you. Remind me I need to get some more cutch now. I love that stuff. Dyeing larger pieces of fabric is rather an exercise! Wet yardage is heavy and it's really hard to squeeze out the excess liquid. I much prefer dyeing yarn.

So what else is new? Last Friday I got to show the studios and garden off to a small group of fashionable women, all of whom I first met on the Internet before I met them in real life. We had a blast and I didn't take any photos at all! Bad blogger. Melanie (Bag and a Beret), Sue (A Colourful Canvas) and Barbara (blogless but vancouverbarbara on Instagram) are all delightful and we had a lovely afternoon on the deck drinking Thom's wine and nibbling on fruit and cheese. See? Sometimes you can make real friends out of electronic acquaintances! They aren't just pixels on my screen or comments on this here blog.

Now I'm struggling to get through the picot bind-off on my orange Linen Dreams Shawl. It's 3 steps forward and 2 steps back! Over about a gazillion stitches. OK, slight exageration. But I've worked on it for several hours already and am not even halfway done. I'd like to get it blocked sometime this century. Though it's kind of too hot to wear it right now anyway. Anything is too hot.

So since I need to continue with the knitting, I'll leave you with a photo of my Hibiscus syriacus "Marina" (aka rose of Sharon or althea) that's just come out in the last few days:

I love that blue-violet colour! Apparently you can dye with the flowers (as well as eat them!) but I have yet to try it. I just started to save some of the spent blooms in the fridge for experimental purposes. The information I have says that it's a bit of a chameleon and you never quite know what colour will appear. Sounds like a challenge now, doesn't it?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Grey Skies

Ah, how time flies. I swear that I just turn around and another week goes whooshing by me. I guess that means that I'm not bored, huh?

After what seems like months of sunshine and hot weather (well, hot for us anyway) it's cloudy and sprinkling a little today. We still had to water the garden however because it's not raining nearly enough to get anything properly wet. Of course this change in the weather happened just as I harvested my garlic and am now trying to get it to cure before I store it for winter use. It's currently on the deck step in a relatively dry spot under the walnut tree but I'm keeping an eye out in case I have to rush out and bring it in the basement. So far the rain is drying as fast as it hits the ground.

In knitting news I finished a couple of ongoing projects. I'm pretty happy with my Element pullover sweater:

The Cloudborn Fibers Limited Edition Wool Fingering Twist, 100% Peruvian Highland wool, colour Charcoal Heather, was the perfect yarn for this pattern. The gauge was quite loose for a fingering yarn and the extra twist in this yarn held up nicely and gave a good springy fabric that still blocks out perfectly:

With it flat you can see the lacey hi-lo hemline and the drawstring cowl collar. I used my spool knitter for the I-cord instead of dpns. Much easier! I made the body a little longer than the pattern but shortened the sleeves nearly 3". They are still long on me! I reduced the height of the sleeve cap and armhole too but could have gone about half an inch more still since the depth is still loose. Hopefully that means I'll have enough room for a t-shirt layer or two underneath. Right now though it's too hot to wear it so I tucked it away until things cool off. This sweater used only about 3-1/4 skeins out of my stash of 6 so there's enough left for another project.

I also finished the Bosc Pear Shawl in my rhubarb root dyed Cloudborn Fibers Merino Superwash Sock Twist:

The pattern is by Tetiana Otruta and is free on Ravelry. I made a ridiculous number of mistakes on this project! The pattern should have been simple but somehow wasn't. Some of the blame is mine but I do think the pattern could have used tech-editing. I began this project in order to help my friend get started because she was having trouble too! I should have taken the time to go through and re-write the whole thing for my own benefit. In the end the mistakes that were left don't show and the thing is lovely and soft and blocked out really nicely so I'm happy enough. Another project that is too hot to wear!

I'm well into the lace and beads part of my Linen Dreams Shawl. Much further than this photo from a couple of days ago:

The pattern is Sweet Dreams by Boo Knits and it's one of 5 in a collection and not available separately. I decided that since I've always wanted to knit one of Bev's lovely lace shawls I'd just go for it. There's one or two other shawls in the collection that I might want to knit eventually as well. Since I don't buy knitting magazines anymore and rarely books either, I could afford to splurge on this ebook. At least most of the money goes directly to the designer.

I now have patterns picked out for the other skeins of linen yarn I bought in Victoria. They may have to wait a little while though. I can always take them with us on our September Trek.

One thing I haven't done yet is continued my sewing odyssey. I still have 4 garments cut out and waiting for me to change the thread in the serger. Plus I need to put together the Thread Theory Fairfield shirt pattern and trace off Thom's size and adjust it to his liking. I already have a couple of pieces of fabric for long-sleeved shirts and he really has a gap in his wardrobe just crying for them. Somehow he has gazillions of nice short-sleeved shirts for summer but all his long-sleeved winter ones are wearing out. It would be great to have a perfect go-to pattern for him and then I can just keep my eyes open for the right fabrics. He loves nice linens and crisp cottons as much as I like to sew them.

Speaking of our September Trek we have our ferry reservations now so we're committed to 2 weeks in Haida Gwaii and then down the Inside Passage to Vancouver Island. We are hoping that the many awful forest fires in the BC Interior will be under control by the time we have to head to Prince Rupert because we have to go right through the Williams Lake area where the fires are worst. It's reminding me of the year we went to Colorado and didn't get out of the smoke until we were in the southern part of Montana and nearly to Wyoming. It was horrible. My heart goes out to all the thousands of people in BC affected this summer. The total is currently 43,000 people (plus a lot of their pets and farm animals) evacuated or on alert. Yikes.

I still haven't plotted the rest of our trip once we land in Port Hardy on the way back. We'd love to get out to Long Beach for at least a few days. Haven't been there for years so it's great to have an opportunity this time. Half the fun for me is figuring out where we want to go and how we're going to get there. Black Belt Google-Fu Skillz!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

ANWG Shopping

Of course whenever I go to a weaving (or sewing) conference, the part I most look forward to is perusing the vendor area. Here is where the yarn fumes are permeating the air and excited conversations are buzzing everywhere and there is So. Much. Good. Stuff. Every time I entered the gym at UVic I managed to find something I had to have. Even though I already have everything. At least I thought I did.

I seem to have been on a linen theme for most of my purchases. Nearly all the yarn I bought was linen:

From the top that's Shibui Knits Linen, colour "scale", purchased in downtown Victoria at Beehive Wool Shop; Maiwa's new Honest Yarn linen lace, colour natural undyed; and Prism Euroflax Linen laceweight, colour "Kilimanjaro". All 100% linen, all different, all going to be linen shawls.

I also got 3 cones of Habu's bamboo wrapped copper:

It's colour is listed as brown but it's really black with glints of the copper showing through. I'm hoping there's enough to make some kind of garment even if I have to combine it with something else. Apparently the manufacturer isn't making this anymore so I won't be able to pick up another cone if I don't have enough!

Along with the yarns I bought fabrics, including 2 pieces of undyed linen:

The top one is a lighter weight texture weave and the bottom one a heavier canvas weave, both from Gala Fabrics and very reasonably priced. They will of course end up in dyebaths before I sew them up.

And the best for last:

This is a precious 5M length of Indian khadi cloth, handspun, naturally dyed and handwoven by Raju, as you can tell by the tag. It's cotton, wool and silk and each selvedge is a different colour - red and blue. I'm going to have to find something to make that utilises that, right? It's very light and airy.

I nearly forgot to mention the lovely shopping basket I bought, made by weavers in Ghana and purchased from Big Blue Moma:

I especially love the effective designs and the leather-wound handles.

So there you go.

We also had a great time on our camping trip - apart from the inevitable mosquitoes. I even got to swim in a little bay on Hicks Lake (northeast of Harrison Hot Springs)

Yes, including a flock of geese, tiny fish, an inflated crocodile and two of my three grandchildren. It was fun! I rarely get to swim since I'm increasingly sensitive to chlorine. It's got to be in a lake or the ocean. I'm not a good swimmer but I love just splashing about in the water. Especially on a very hot day, which it definitely was.

So now we're home for the rest of the summer, at least until we head off on our annual September Trek. So far all I've been doing is watering and weeding the garden. It kind of got neglected while I was away. No sewing and minimal knitting is getting done, though I'm almost finished the Bosc Pear Shawl. Needless to say, I want to start a shawl with that lovely orange chain-plied Shibui Linen. And I have wool to spin up for a sweater for Thom which has to be done before we leave so I can knit on it while we're driving. Who says summer is lazy?