Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Daring to Believe It's Spring

The city of Vernon in the North Okanagan is home to a blue heron rookery. A terrible wind storm early last summer did considerable damage, destroying several nests and killing some adult birds.

I was in their neighbourhood last week and happened to glance up. There they are, waiting for yet another mini-snowstorm to blow through. It was lovely to see these birds return.

It's vastly amusing to me to see these tall wading birds so high up in the trees. I wish them success in this coming breeding season.

I apologize for the quality of the photos, taken with my cell phone. It was brutally cold and the light was flat with overcast skies.

So while I've been recovering from surgery these past few weeks, I've been working away at spinning the blue-green silk that's my current obsession. The sun was shining so beautifully a few days ago that I laid out some skeins from this winter, to catch the light. The sheen from silk is breathtaking, and I know these photos (taken with a real camera) don't do them justice. Still, I'm pretty happy with it.

A little Canadian dime (10 cent piece) puts the yarn to scale... if you know how small a dime is.

This is what true contentment looks like.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Photo for Cro

I saw your gardening posts and then looked out over my front yard this morning:

There will be no gardening done in this yard today. And not likely tomorrow either.

There may be, however, some inordinate consumption of consolation vino.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Little Loom Restoration

Happy First Day of Spring, for those in the Northern Hemisphere. And about time, sez I. The first wave of migrating robins breezed through here early last week.

I've been laying low for a few days, recovering from surgery last Friday to have my gallbladder removed. While happy to have the little beast out from within, I must confess I'm a terribly impatient patient when it comes to recovery. The surgery itself is not the whack'em wide open affair that it was in my mother's day, but still and all, a body part has been removed and there's bound to be a few repercussions. My energy waxes and wanes, and so I set upon a little job that was suited to my temper.

A local fellow donated  this little 2-harness loom to our local museum. And although at first glance it was in operating order, closer inspection revealed several issues.

For example, the heddles on the front harness had slid off the bottom bar, revealing broken threads, for instance. And the harnesses themselves were not hooked up properly, with more broken threads.
And I just noticed that the frame isn't square in these first pics. It can be folded down flat, and at this point the bars that hold it square were not properly seated in place.

I'm not sure who last warped this loom, but they really didn't have a clue what they were doing. I can see Laura shuddering whilst looking at this photo!

Time for some TLC.

There is nothing on this loom to indicate its origins - no logo or other identifiers. So I went to my friends on a FB page dedicated to restoring old looms. Comments flowed back almost instantaneously. Most said it was either a Brio (from Sweden) or Peacock (US). After working on it, I believe it to be a very early Brio: everything on it is wood except the reed and bolts. These were children's looms but adults have used them.

There is very little useful information online about these looms. After an exhausting and exhaustive search, I found a few photos that informed my plan of action, and so I set to taking it part.

I cut off the woven piece, pulled all the warp out of the heddles and left it on the back beam. Then I cut all the string that was holding the harnesses together and on the frame. One photo I found showed that the owner had replaced those strings with twill tape. Brilliant!

I affixed the twill tape with small safety pins, so that I can adjust them if and when needed. The heddles were bundled together while I tweaked the set-up. There are no treadles, of course, so the harnesses are lifted/lowered by turning the top bar (the twill tape is tacked to it); the tape around the bottom bar keeps the heddles taut.

I unwound the warp from the back beam, straightened it as best I could (no cross ties, etc!) and wound it back on, using pieces of parchment paper between the wraps. And then I threaded the heddles and reed.

It's looking pretty good, but when I laid in a few shots of weft, I found a some things that need adjusting. I'm going to try shortening the bottom tapes, lengthening the top ones, so that the shed is more centred in the reed.

This will never be a production loom! but it is great for demonstrations when I'm at the museum with my spinning wheel. I'm certainly not going to lug my 45 inch counterbalance floor loom around. When I spin yarn, most people understand what knitting and crocheting are, but they don't generally understand how fabric is constructed. This is the very basic way it's done.

I let people try out my spinning wheel when I'm working at demo days. I'll certainly let them try this little beauty as well. Touch adds to memory, and hands-on is the best way to learn.

I'll post some pics of 'real' weaving when I get the Little Loom set up properly. Maybe I'll even make a little video of weaving.

Friday, February 23, 2018

February musings

That pretty much sums up this winter. And apparently summer in places like New Zealand where my farmer friends are cleaning up the damage from Cyclone Gita.

Looked outside and found this:

It is our rain barrel. In winter? you ask. Well, there is a little problem with a roof line on our house. We've had some sunny days, making the snow melt on the roof and drip onto the concrete pad in front of the garage ... which then freezes into a sheet of glare ice. So the barrel is there to catch the drips. Then it freezes and eventually does what ice does in a restricted container.

The problem is on both sides of the - what do you call this architectural feature? - the piece that juts out. You can see icicles on the left side, but it drips into the bushes so not as much of a problem.

Remember the wiener roast we had in the fire pit shortly after New Year's Day? Buried again. No toasty fires in the immediate future. So we concentrate on indoor activities.

I had a large amount of baby alpaca yarn calling out for attention, so I put the spinning wheel aside and commenced work on a pair of shawls/scarves (can be worn many ways). They are light as a feather but oh so cosy and warm.

This is the second one, washed and laid out to be soft blocked (as opposed to pulled into shape with T-pins on a blocking board). I was just too lazy to bother with pinning, and it works for me.

Detail of the crochet work:

And of course, curling. Our club held the 19th Annual Tuff Spiel last weekend. It's a one-on-one competition, and lest you think that's boring, I assure you that it is the ultimate curler's game. If you've watch curling on the TV lately, you've seen four people teams, with a skip calling the shots and sweepers assisting the rocks as they travel.

There is none of that in this game.

No skip, no sweepers. Players can come no closer to the house (the rings) than that little flag you see on the right side of this photo below. There is an umpire who only moves rocks that are out of play for various reasons and to mark the points on the scoreboard. Don is watching as Nancy makes her last shot of this end. 

It's a difficult game, physically and mentally, but that's what makes it so darned much fun!

The Husband and I went to Kelowna one day, ostensibly to pick up some things at the Asian grocery store we like and have sushi at the restaurant beside it, but mostly to enjoy a sunshine day which happened to also be my birthday.

Coming home, the clouds started to move in, creating lovely light and shadow contrasts on the hills. This is Kalamalka Lake with Vernon in the far distance, orchards at the bottom right in the Oyama district.

No so much snow closer to the lakes and 250m lower in elevation than us. The lakes don't freeze because they are so deep - inland fiords, if you will. Kal is 142m (466 ft) at its maximum depth. Okanagan Lake, just west of it, is 232m (761 ft) max. This is an interesting little factoid blog about the lake.

If all else fails to cheer me up on a dull winter day (today, for example), watching the quail as they move around our yard (this time, coming back from picking sand off the bottom of my car) is always entertaining.

Friday, February 9, 2018


The youngest grandson is showing a strong preference for using his left hand.

No surprise there. His mother, The Daughter, was adamantly a leftie from the moment she began using her hands. Her brother was ambivalent and would use whichever hand in which you placed a pencil or utensil. But not her.

My mother was one of those unfortunates who was forced to use her right hand in school. She had exquisite penmanship using her right hand, and also did hand sewing with her right hand. Sports were funny, though: pitched a fast ball left but batted right, golfed left but curled right.

My mom's father was a leftie in all things, especially when shooting pool and curling. I don't think I ever saw him write anything; he was an immigrant who was an avid reader in English but a reluctant writer.

The Husband is a sometimes-leftie, mostly when it comes to hockey and baseball. There are lefties lurking in his family tree as well.

So unfortunate that there has been such a long bias, in western culture at least, against lefties. We almost all have two arms with a hand at the end of each. If we expect equality in all other matters where there are two of something (two sexes = 50% female and 50% male), why wouldn't it be natural to expect that 50% of people would have a dominant left hand preference and 50% a right.

(I just read that only 10% of the population is left handed. Is that true, or did the rest of them just give up?)

In fact, why is it the 'right' hand, with the connotation being 'right' as 'correct'?

I've watched my girl struggle for years to find scissors that fit her hands, work with tools that are backwards, find a place to sit at a dinner table so that she doesn't elbow her neighbour.

At least the little leftie has a mom who's watching his back. In this case, it truly does take one to know one.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Wherein We Survive The Plague: Flu Diaries

Several days have passed since the last post. Days filled with the sounds of coughing and sneezing and moaning. The Husband continues his battle with the flu.

I last wrote that he was feeling better. False alarm. This is a nasty persistent bug that has exhausted him. And so life continues on a quiet path for now.

Just as well, considering the weather. Yes.

Overnight accumulation on the tonneau.

There is a 1780 m mountain behind that curtain of snowfall.

And I am in the last throes of a sinus cold. In view of my constant exposure to Mr. Hack-and-Spray, I consider myself lucky to get off so lightly.

It has, however, impeded my efforts to write coherently - not a good situation for paid work - and my comprehension of time. Can you imagine my surprise and dismay at realizing today is the 28th of January? Somehow I lost a week and am now staring down the barrel at several deadlines. Yikes.

On the days when writing was simply beyond the abilities of my tired brain, I turned to the spinning wheel for solace. A large amount of silk arrived in the mail and I succumbed to temptation. It was so newly-dyed by the lovely Diane at The Silk Weaving Studio in Vancouver that it was still slightly damp. I spread it out in the sunshine to fully dry and admire the sheen.

At the time, I was working on some silk yardage I completed last winter, having found a pattern that worked with the amount of yarn I had available.

Loving this shawl. Light as a feather, soft as a baby's cheek, yet oh so warm.

I already have a plan for this yarn, spent hours online looking for the pattern.

Just so you know that my whole life isn't tied up with writing, yarn and snow, I thought I'd share something else. I work part time as a life drawing model, and have a regular gig with a college animation program in Kelowna. Much different work than what I do with other life drawing classes. Lots of motion, short poses, physicality. I particularly liked this set of sketches based on 1 minute poses:

This is why I started going to Tai Chi classes!

"While you have a future do not live too much in contemplation of your past: unless you are content to walk backward the mirror is a poor guide." Ambrose Bierce (my new fav)

Friday, January 19, 2018


What more is there to say?

When the world looks like this:

Alternating snow and sleet
you do this:

and try not to let The Husband's flu virus overwhelm the world.

He was indeed very sick for about six days, but on the seventh he rose to declare that he might, just might, want to continue living.