Friday, July 31, 2009

sweet pea

last summer i planted 3 perennial sweet pea plants in the back of my garden and secured them with a bamboo tri-pod. they grew very tall but didn't bloom. yesterday i noticed these exquisite blooms. with all the colour, the heat, the noise, the energy of summer - it's easy to miss the subtle.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


when my children were little, for a time, i lost myself. i poured who i was into them. my skin became thin. almost transparent. but my heart grew. large and pink and throbbing. this is how i feel again with my grand children. in the crazy swirl or little limbs, of soft wet kisses. in confusion and mess and noise.
yesterday we all went down to cape ray (near port aux basques at the southern tip of newfoundland) and met up with marilee and her daughter and grandchildren (3 generations of friends). the sky was high. the ocean on and on forever. our last day all together. a perfect end to a week-long holiday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

breakfast in the garden

every year the grandchildren come for a visit. first one, then two and now three. at the end of the summer i give them each a little photo album of summer memories. eamon has 8 albums. lucy has 4. and now finn will have his first. and every year more activities are added to "what we do at nana and poppy's" for lucy who only vaguely remembers last summer - it's sitting at the stone bench in her yellow chair and eating kellogg's cereal out of the little box...

Thursday, July 23, 2009


summer for me will be taking an abrupt turn starting today. my daughter and her husband and 3 kiddos are arriving from st. john's. this is finn's first trip to corner brook. he is almost 7 months old. sitting but not yet crawling. lucy is 4 and eamon 9. they'll all stay for a week and then go home, leaving eamon with us for a couple more weeks. lucy has been invited to stay behind too (eamon started his summer vacations with nana and poppy when he was 4). but lucy (who always knows exactly what she wants) says she will start when she is 6. lots of adventures planned. lots of cooking and cleaning and hiking and swimming and stories. perhaps some more dyeing of alders (i got a big propane cooker and pot yesterday so this can now be done outside). some carding and spinning with many little fingers involved. summer...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the cabin

i haven't been spending time at the cabin this summer. this is a different summer. i'm doing more at home. not working more but finding home a wonderful place for relaxing. the garden and greenhouse has made me just want to be here. but yesterday i woke up really wanting to be down in dark cove. so we went there for the day. and re-connected.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


there's no denying it. summer is half over. the garden is at it's peak. the late flowers are coming into bud. the vegetable plants have reached their maximum height and now all the energy is going into the fruit. july is the only month of the year i want to hang onto. i love the autumn but not the winter. mid-summer heralds the beginning of the descent into winter...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

brighten up!

in november i'll be doing the toronto one of a kind christmas show (this time for the full 11 days). last week i was invited to send some of my shawl/scarves to them to have them photographed and used in their pre-show publicity - brochures, website etc. they wanted bright colours and as i dug through my pile of shawl/scarves i realized that my colours haven't been very bright lately. i'm dyeing almost all my own fleece now and still mostly using natural dyes so the colours are muted. i sent what i had and am determined now to brighten things up. "bohemian" is the first of the new ones.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

bring on the cold (just kidding!)

i can see that my sales at the weekly corner brook market will depend heavily on the weather. the first week in mid-june, before summer had set in, i did well - selling mostly scarflettes. last week the day was hot (up to 30 degress celcius) and i sold only a little yarn and knitting needles. no-one even wanted to touch the shawls and scarflettes becasue of the heat. today was cool and breezy (fortunately the rain held off). alot of people arrived not dressed warmly enough and my shawls obviously looked inviting because i sold 4 of them - and a few scarflettes. i hate it not being warm this weekend, but it sure boosted my sales...

Friday, July 17, 2009

singing in the rain

the rain today is keeping me indoors and out of the garden, but i can still hear the plants and flowers singing...

Thursday, July 16, 2009


this summer i've been spending more time in gros morne national park again. before we built our cabin in the bay of islands (about 8 years ago) we would take almost weekly trips to gros morne all summer long. this year a couple of my friends are there for the summer and i've been visiting with them. one of my favourite parts of the park is the tablelands - an ancient ocean floor pushed up with the collision of two tectonic plates. little grows on the tablelands. the colour of the rock ranges from beige and gold to orange and pink - depending on the sun and time of day. i've painted the tablelands in the past and now i'm capturing the colours in yarn...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the fruits of my labour

the garden, the greenhouse and the most recently dyed fleece...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

turning a negative into a positive

alders grow rampant in newfoundland. along the edge of highways. taking over vacant farmer's fields. nobody wants alders on their land. recently robyn researched alder as a dye material for wool and found that every part of the bush can be used. the leaves - boiled for an hour and then with the addtion of alum as a mordant (to keep the colour in) and the fleece left to soak overnight, gives this rich yellow. and the cut up twigs, soaked in water for a couple of days and then again with the addition of alum, gave a pale white gold colour. i'll never look at alder the same way again...

Monday, July 13, 2009


in the summer, on the lovely weekends, corner brook empties out. everyone, who can, leaves - either to their cabin, to the surrounding lakes and the ocean for a picnic and a swim, a hike in the cool woods. because of this, the market on saturday was small and sales were down from the first one in mid-june (especially with wool and knitwear - the temperature reached 30 degrees celcius!). saturday evening i went back up to woody point with brenda, spent a liesurely evening sitting out on her deck (she found these wonderful "motel" chairs last month thrown out with the curb-side garbage - good spotting brenda!), and yesterday we dyed more wool (and brenda - silk) in the cool of the basement of the old school house she has for the summer. a peaceful and productive weekend.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

market day

if you're in corner brook, come join us at the farmer's market on the majestic lawn in the centre of town. the west coast craft collective will be there every saturday (from 10-2) until late october.

Friday, July 10, 2009


this week i needed to complete an order of painted wooden objects - magnets, boxes, key holders - for hunky dory in woody point. it's that time of year when alot of visitors from away want to take back something "fish" related to remember their vacation in newfoundland. in the past these items (along with my hooked mats) have kept me going financially through the summer months. tourism is slow this year. the recession. the cost of gas. so the orders this year have been smaller. i've had my head down all week - difficult because the weather has been lovely. but i'm finished now. will deliver it today and can turn my attention back to the garden and the wool dyeing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

summer in the city

in 1968 i was 18 and spent my first summer alone in the city (toronto). my boyfriend (soon to be husband) had moved back up north and was living with his parents while he worked at a local drive-in theatre for the summer. i lived in a rooming house and on nice days, would crawl out a window onto a tarry flat rooftop and sunbathe with my book and transistor radio. this song by the lovin' spoonful (1966) always reminds me of that summer. this yarn was inspired by that summer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

taking it a step further

i've been in woody point in gros morne for the past couple of days. i spent sunday night with a friend who has a summer home/print studio which overlooks the ocean and while she worked late into the evening pulling prints,i sat out on the back deck knitting and allowed the stillness to flood over me. that night i slept with the sliding door by the bed wide open, the sound of the rain, the waves, the lights of norris point twinkling across the bay. yesterday morning we went over to brenda's summer artist residence in glen burnie for a 1 day wool dyeing workshop (both natural dyes and acid dyes). i learned so much. that dried banana peels give a rich tan colour. by adding a drop of tna detergent to the dye bath you can avoid soaking the fleece ahead of time. how to safely mix up the acid dyes... and much, much more. like most artist, i learn best visually - actually watching the process rather than reading about it in a book. i feel i can approach dyeing my fleece with alot more confidence now.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

rhubarb muffins

in my pursuit of getting more balance in my life, i've made a mental list of things to spend more time on. in no particular order: friends, reading, gardening, meditation and yoga, cooking and baking. things that have taken a back seat when i spend all my time working on my craft. when i was married and the children were small, food preparation was a big part of my life. keith is content with simple and repetitive meals so there has been no incentive to put time into food preparation since we've been together. and with menopausal weight gain i've tried to avoid baking. but lately i've really been wanting to cook and bake again. so yesterday i made these muffins - a recipe from my past. (couldn't find rhubarb in the grocery store so raided my neighbour's patch - they're away for the weekend but i knew they wouldn't mind).

rhubarb muffins

whisk together 3/4 c. sour cream, 1/4 c veg. oil, 1 large egg
in a separate bowl combine 1 1/3 c white flour, 2/3c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 t. salt
fold the liquid ingred. into the dry and add 1 c. finely chopped rhubarb.
put in muffin tin and top with: 1/4 c. brown sugar, 1/4 c. nuts, 1/2 tsp Cinnamon, 2 tsp. melted butter

bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min.

mmmm - Delicious.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

i don't know this sun

as a child in the 1950's, i would spend all my days out of doors. we didn't know what sunscreen was. or sun hats. in the early 60's i hung out at the local swimming pool. lathered up with johnson's baby oil. rarely burned and by mid-summer had tanned to dark brown. in the early 80's i bathed nude in the intense heat of the greek sun. but it is not the same sun now. i find it frightening. 5 minutes in the sun without protection and i feel that my skin is being rubbed with stinging nettle. what have we done to the sun...

Friday, July 3, 2009

"i cannot live without my life! i cannot live without my soul!"

i've joined a book-club. we are very small - only 3 members. and slightly disorganized - we've only had two meetings so far because we wait until we've all finished reading the book. we take turns hosting a "book-related" dinner at one another's homes. our first book "pride and prejudice" called for an elegant evening. last night we discussed "wuthering heights" over vegetarian shepherd's pie. i love rereading these books. i wouldn't be doing it on my own. for me it's like opening up a box that shows me who i was when i first read them - as a teenager, as a university student and who i am now. our next book is a new one for 2 of us - paulo coelho's "the alchemist". the meeting will be at my home and i'm already thinking about the menu. (any "vegetarian" suggestions?) walking home from the meeting last night i took this photo. catherine and heathcliff were in my thoughts.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

let's pretend

yesterday the plan was to go down to the cabin for an overnight stay. after lunch we packed up and went looking for flora the cat. we leave her indoors with plenty of food and fresh water and access to her litter box when we go to the cabin over-night. in the winter she's basically an indoor cat but when the weather is good she loves to be outside coming in only at night. yesterday was a hot day and she's spends days like that hanging out in the woods. as every cat owner knows - if the cat doesn't want to be found, she won't be. so we waited, and after about an hour we realized that the day was slipping by and we were on hold, so we decided to stay home (flora finally showed up around 6:00 pm). i was determined to take a holiday anyway (it being canada day), so did all the things i would have done at the cabin. i sat on the deck looking out over the garden and enjoyed the sound of the wind in the tree-tops. the colours of the garden. knit a little read a little. even dozed off - as i would on the cabin deck looking out at the ocean. we had a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

painting with fleece

i wanted to make a skein of yarn using the colours found in this amazing coral-pink poppy. none of my fleece was the colour i needed. so i gathered together my pinks and oranges and even my cream fleece and carded them together in the right proportions to get just the colour i needed. and then for accents, to match the centre of the poppy, i chose bits of my heavily textured commercial novelty yarns - the deep almost balck purple, the soft lilac... i'm delighted with the results.