The Story So Far

I don’t know about everyone else, but not much has changed in our quiet life. I do miss sushi and fish and chips. And I’m wishing I could get rid of all the junk we still have lurking about. Most of all I really miss being able to get together with my family this Easter weekend to eat turkey and mashed potatoes and yack our heads off like we always do. Sigh. Most everyone is in the same boat I’m sure. I am eternally grateful that we have a home and enough to go on with. I know not everyone is so privileged and there are a whole lot of folks out there on the front lines keeping things together and taking care of essential services. A hearty thank you to all of you for your efforts on everyone’s behalf! You are truly appreciated from the bottom of our hearts. Along with what sounds like half the city, we go out on the front porch every evening at 7pm and clap and whistle and yell our heads off to let our carers know!

Meanwhile back in our semi-lockdown, spring seems to be appearing faster than I expected. It’s still been cold at night – just a few degrees Celsius above freezing – but the days have been sunny and getting warmer. We’ve been taking our exercise walkabout in mid-morning when it’s quiet and easier to keep our distance from others. Just around the local residential streets and occasional back alley we’re averaging about 5 or 6 kilometres. The spring flowers and shrubs and especially the cherry trees are spectacular! They’re a little late this year but worth the wait.

Seedlings waiting to go in the garden.

The garden is slowly being tamed. The peas and asparagus are coming up and I got the early Asian greens (bok choy, gai lan, mizuna) that I grew to little seedlings into their home bed. Next in will be the baby kale and cabbages but first I have to finish preparing their spots. I’ve been diligently repotting everything into larger flats so nobody will be in too big of a hurry to be transplanted. I have to schlep them out of the house every day, some to go on the deck and some in the greenhouse. And then back every evening. It’s a lot of work! Thank you, Past Me, for thinking ahead and getting lots of bags of seedling and potting soil as well as all my garden seeds before the pandemic hit. It was a good move! There’s lots of work we can do here before we need to order any other garden supplies. Apparently they’ve been really busy with online and phone orders for curbside pickup. Lots of people stuck at home are obviously planning gardens this year.

So what else? I wasn’t feeling like sewing. Not even masks. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone I have a secret stash of N95 masks…okay, one small box of a half dozen. They are part of our safety equipment for dyeing and woodworking.) I hate wearing a mask unless absolutely necessary because it clashes totally with my glasses and hearing aids. Ugh. There’s enough going on at the back of my ears already! And even with the good ones I feel like I can’t breathe. And my nose itches abominably. Also, have you noticed that many (most?) people are not using masks correctly. Touching their mask, pulling it down, wearing it again without cleaning it properly etc. etc. They might as well not bother. It becomes more of a polite social gesture rather than a functional protection for anyone. However that said, I might wear a mask myself the next time we need to go grocery shopping, which won’t be for a couple of weeks at least. People are NOT maintaining their distance or following the basic rules in the store. Grrrr…what is it you don’t understand about people are actually dying here? Who made you immune?

Whew. Sorry. Guess I have issues and I’m not anything resembling a germaphobe. I am definitely an elder though. Turning the Big Seven Oh this year. We’re the most vulnerable demographic. And in my experience the older people are the ones who are doing the most to be careful and considerate. Younger people seem to be the ones breezing past me, pressing the crossing light buttons with their bare hands, not conceding the sidewalk to keep their two metres/two yards apart and generally acting like it’s all fine. The good news is that families with kids at home are spending way more time than usual with them. They mostly seem to be having fun chalking exercise games on the sidewalk, riding their bikes together, taping up hearts and rainbows and posing bears in their windows. Okay, be positive. We’ll get through this.

Meanwhile, back in the studio, I’ve been weaving. Yes, folks, I’ve finally remembered how to use my loom. Amazing, huh? Not without incident though. I decided to make some new dish towels since the selection in this house is rapidly thinning (literally!) I’m not going to buy any new supplies so it’s all about using what I already have in the stash. For once I actually went to my magazine shelves and in the first Handwoven (May/June 2013) that I looked at found the perfect towel pattern! Serendipity. The structure is four-block four-shaft Summer & Winter, a variation which uses only 4 shafts and 6 treadles but manages to look much more complex than it is. I dug out 6 fruity colours of 2/8 unmercerised cotton for the warp and used those plus whatever else I thought might work for the wefts.

First towel on the loom

Unfortunately it was only after weaving 3/4 of a towel that I discovered an error in the threading.

Can you see the mistake?

Now of course I can’t UNsee it but it was definitely not obvious in among all those colours! So I finished weaving that towel and cut it off, fixed the error which was only 3 threads, retied on and got back to work on the next towel. I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like completely finished so I sewed up the hems on the first towel and washed and dried it in the machine.

Love it! Still seeing the mistake though.
Laying flat on my desk.

You can see better how I used two colours in the weft for each two blocks of treadling. After the first block they automatically switch places so for the second block the tabby becomes the pattern and the pattern becomes the tabby. It’s surprising how different they look! I found that nearly any colour combination worked as long as there was enough value contrast. This means that I can use up a whole lot of random partial tubes of 2/8 cotton and still get beautiful towels. Win-win, I’d say! I can’t stop gazing at it. And attempting to ignore the glitch. Heh. The second towel is going much better. I think my body is getting into the rhythm now.

Make Space Project

Do you have any idea how much stuff one can collect after living in the same house for nearly 41 years? Especially when there are two people with multiple craft interests involved? It’s not like we haven’t cleaned and purged and sorted and pitched lots of things over the years. But no matter how diligent you are (and we haven’t been especially) there’s always more you can do. And then when you’ve done it, you can always do it again! Stuff grows to fill the available space, right? And priorities and tastes change. Also your tolerance for clutter. Mine is decreasing rapidly and I’m starting to crave more simplicity in my life. Is this an age thing?

Anyway we’ve started on the bedroom first as the room we spend the most time in. We went through our clothes not that long ago but there were a few more things that had to go. And then I fell down the KonMari rabbit hole. Oops!!

Folding is fun! Who knew?

I’ve been frustrated in the past trying to locate a particular garment in a pile without disrupting the whole drawer. I’ve totally lost things at the bottom that I’ve forgotten I had. This method solves these problems by making everything visible at once. Another advantage to folding everything was that it gave me a chance to inspect each garment for popped seams, loose buttons or other mending. This is just one drawer out of 10 and includes my bras, panties and leggings. I surprisingly had more room in it after I folded everything! And yes, I included Thom’s drawers in that count because I folded all his clothes as well. Now we’ll see how long I can keep them this tidy.

Yes, I do have quite a few garments! I am no minimalist by any means. However, if you realise that I’ve made most of my clothes with my own two hands that might put my collection in better perspective. Not to mention that most of the things that I haven’t sewn myself are a minimum of 10 years old. The t-shirts that I wear to bed as pajamas are old enough to vote! I actually think that owning more clothes makes them last longer. But you do have to be careful to cycle through them regularly and not just wear the same three things over and over. And that’s proving to be another example of how the folding helps with that: you take garments from the front to wear and after they’re laundered you put them back in the rear of the lineup.

We’ve also cleaned off most of the shelves, sorted the grandkids toys kept in the closet (and chucked a whole bunch), donated most of my jewelry which I no longer wear to the eldest grandkid (who I’m sure will find lots of creative ways to use them), and are contemplating buying a new mattress for the bed. We’ve given ourselves until the end of the month to finish this room and we’re well ahead of the deadline. Hope we don’t run out of steam before we get to That Silly Season Which We Shall Not Name! We’re already only a week away from our Canadian Thanksgiving which we foolishly happily volunteered to host this year.

In other news, I’ve started knitting a new sweater. Let’s not mention the fact that I already have a sweater on the needles that’s been in time-out for months. Also a pair of socks, same. I wanted something fresh and new! This is the beginning of Sammal, a cardigan by Joji Locatelli.

Sammal Cardigan in Cloudborn Fibers Wool Fingering Twist

The pattern is beautifully written and edited so there’s no excuse except my own that it took me two tries to get the short row neck section correct. Going well now though. I do like the Sand Stitch texture and the cute little braids down the fronts. Yeah, it’s dark grey, aka Iron Heather. It goes with everything. So sue me.

Lastly I bought myself an early birthday present! It’s not until next month but so what? I’m worth it. Since I had to retire my oldest pair of Blundstone boots after our last holiday (OK, I couldn’t throw them out – they’re gardening boots now) I was going to get another pair of brown ones. But this colour, Seal Grey, jumped out. Not quite grey, it has elements of taupe and brown in it. I’m calling it Bob because that’s our family’s name for all harbour seals which it totally resembles!

Seal Grey Blundstone boots – goes with everything

Short Summer Odyssey

It’s been a bit quiet around here lately but that’s because I’ve been away on the Annual Fambly Camping Trip. This time we went to Horne Lake on Vancouver Island and even though the weather wasn’t particularly cooperative it was rather fun.

The campsite was excellent and only a short path to the beach. We managed to squeeze in some swimming and some relaxing with books and a cider between rain showers. The whole gang attempted to explore the Horne Lake Caves. Here’s the intrepid cave explorers:

Minus the Grandpa acting as photographer. One half of the party (aka my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter) made it about a couple of metres in. Thom and I and our 12-year old grandson (our son’s youngest) made it about twice as far. Same for the second cave we tried. Even though Thom and I have explored lots of cave systems over the last 15 years or so, these caves are undeveloped and a quite difficult for the average person. We didn’t go on a paid cave tour which may or may not have been more accessible. However the guides were definitely not very forthcoming on ability levels needed even though we asked explicitly. Kind of disappointing really. Eventually the other half went back to camp while The Boy and Thom and I hiked up in the (warm) rain to one last cave. We made it a little further into this one with some delicate maneuvering to get down a ladder. At least we could show The Boy how dark it is in the caves when you turn out the lights! Then he found an alternate exit:

As his first caving experience I think he was fairly pleased! I wouldn’t consider this that great myself though because I’ve definitely been in much better and more accessible systems. I’m sure that stronger, young, more athletic people could have gotten much further than we did. Whatever. We did what we could and enjoyed it as much as possible.

My other project for this trip was to knit a hoodie for a pig.

The special request was a sweater for Waddles. I brought yarn and needles and The Boy brought the pig. Lots of measuring and trying it on with no actual pattern but I think it turned out okay. Some random knitting worsted from the stash, size 5mm needles and a couple of days of knitting and there you go! A final round of crochet to snug up the hood opening and both the pig and The Boy were very happy.

I have to admit this has been rather an odd summer so far. Cool and cloudy and occasionally wet. I have to admit that’s better than last year’s forest fires and smoke. You takes what you gets, right? Forecasts are calling for warmer weather coming up so I’ll be complaining about having to water. No pleasing some people!

Back to the sewing machine.

Trash or Treasure

I’ve just begun a rather difficult reassessment of all my crafty stashes. This is not going to be done quickly or without pain – both kinds: physical (books and magazines are heavy!) and emotional (that item reminds me of a special time/place/person and I had plans for it!). No, I haven’t gotten on the Kondo bandwagon. I’m not going by “it sparks joy” but more like “will I use it, ever”. Some of this stuff has been lurking about here for 40 years! Also needs and tastes change. Honestly, I only have just so long left in my life even if I consider the best-case scenario. How many projects can I finish before I’m incapable of finishing them?

So here’s part of the first lot sorted off the shelves:

Yes, I’ve read every single one!

Some has already found new homes. This bunch represents crafts that I think are exciting and inspiring and all, but I don’t want to do them myself anymore. These books and magazines are mostly from the early 2000’s – kind of the heyday of publishing before the Internet stole it all. Showing off these types of embellished creations are what Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for and all you need to see them is a device and an online connection. Since that is considerably cheaper for most people, bye-bye paper magazines. If you’re into perusing through them though, a lot of the lovely stuff in these publications remains relevant today. But I’m ready to move them on to someone who hopefully can appreciate them. I’ve already booked a table at a one-day craft supply sale in April (at the Silk Purse, West Vancouver, BC, noon-4pm). We’ll see how that goes. I hate selling. Just sayin’. Mostly I’ll probably just be giving it away.

And I’m not finished sorting yet! I’m kind of stalled on the beadwork shelves. Actually I would love to do what I did with my lacemaking supplies – find someone who belongs to an interest group and let them have it all to distribute in whatever way works for them. Know any local-to-me beaders? I used to years ago but interests change. Another thing that is stalling me is that my oldest granddaughter is becoming interested in making jewelry as an adjunct to her cosplay makes. She needs a chance to tell me what she would like to use before I sell anything. And then there’s the beads that will fit on my knitting yarns that I’d like to keep. And Thom doesn’t want me to get rid of the wire stuff quite yet. Ummm…it’s complicated.

Which is why I haven’t already done this job in any major way before now! I’m (mostly) ready to do it but it’s obviously going to be an ongoing project for awhile as I make multiple passes through everything. The good news is I’m getting a chance to look more carefully at it all and remember what I actually already have. That should prevent me from adding very much to the collection(s). Notice I’m not saying that I’m never going to buy any crafty stuff ever again? That would just be mean, wouldn’t it? Especially with Fibres West coming up very soon!

Goodbye and Hello


I’m doing my best Maneki Neko and beckoning my old followers over here.

Hold on to your hats! It’s for reals now! I’m now officially ensconced here on this shiny new blog leaving the old Damselfly’s Delights to fossilize back on Blogger. If you’re a new reader and are curious or a previous reader and want to get back there for some reason, just click on the Old Blog link in the menu up top. There are nearly 14 years worth of posts on there: some good, some not-so and some just me nattering on. I’m not planning to take them down but I’m unhappy with the way things are going – or not going – on Blogger. There are plans to integrate it with Google+. Meh. Whatevs, as the young people say. I’m here now so out with the old and in with the new! Let’s see where this one will take us, shall we?

I have plans to post an introduction for those who are new to me and my obsessions…er, interests, but that might take a little time to produce. There’s kind of a lot to say! Meanwhile I have a current projects list, which is probably more for me than maybe of interest to others. Might give you a clue to my main focus on textiles. Anyhow, I’d like to add this to every post from now on but we’ll see how that goes.

Currently working on:

  • Sewing: 4 Bras Light Copper (pattern Pin-Up Girls Ingrid). Status: 50%
  • Knitting: Deciduous Pullover (pattern self-designed). Status: 75%
  • Knitting: Blue Dragon Socks (pattern “Shur-tugal by Alice Yu). Status: 35%
  • Spinning: Coopworth, Grey (2/ply sweater-quantity). Status: 1 out of 6 bobbins singles.
  • Spinning: Corriedale, Fernwood (250g from Aurelia). Status: .5 bobbin singles.