Saturday, October 31, 2009

slow mornings

i work from home. i set my own hours. at this time (craft fair season) the hours are ridiculously long. but i still try to remember weekends and i do this by having slow saturday and sunday mornings. getting up a little later. making porridge instead of eating cold cereal. reading the newspaper instead of just skimming. maybe 2 cups of coffee instead of one.

Friday, October 30, 2009


look up from my work and can't believe it's already friday. this time of year, flat out with craft fair preparation, the only tangible evidence i have of time passing is seeing my piles of product build. on the other hand, keith can't believe that it was only last friday that he was driving around toronto helping his brother with his deliveries. time is illusive and subjective. and tomorrow night we turn back the clocks. so it's also constructed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


today i hope to finish off the last of the kits for my spinning workshop. they'll include 2 ounces of island sweet fleece, a handmade wooden spindle and a card with instructions on how to knit up one of my scarflettes with the yarn you have spun. yesterday stephanie (at toronto one of a kind show) wrote up an entry with details of the workshop on their blog. there's only room for 20 in the workshop, so if you're in the toronto area, and are interested in learning how to spin, sign up for the workshop now.

pumpkin patch

on keith's recent trip to toronto, his brother and family wanted to show him that ontario wasn't just city. so, on the last morning they drove out to a farm near milton to buy a pumpkin and some freshly picked apples. keith knows to bring photos home to me. yesterday i spun up "pumpkin patch" and will put it up in my etsy shop today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the leona drive project

it takes me a full week to read the saturday "globe and mail". last night just before going to bed, i picked up the review section and started reading about the leona drive project. it's an art installation by a number of canadian artists (from all over) who have taken 5 houses in willowdale north of toronto and "redesigned them". i spent my childhood in willowdale. it was one of the first intentional suburbs, built for returning war vets in the 1940's. taking over farmland and erecting rows of tiny identical 2-3 bedroom monopoly style houses (one of the artists actually picks up on this theme). the houses are now slated for demolition (to be replaced by their 21st century version) and in the past few years have been used by squatters. a sad end. and reading about this made me feel strange and old. it made me think of all the people and places that have been "studied". about how much the academics miss. about how much they'll never know or understand.

Monday, October 26, 2009

country mouse and city mouse

keith just spent 4 days in toronto. his brother (his only sibling) moved to toronto over 20 years ago. he's raising his family there. they all get back to newfoundland every few years, but keith, who hates to travel, hasn't been to visit for almost 10 years. so this was a big trip. i grew up in toronto. downtown toronto holds my youth, my memories. for keith, it's all new. his brother drives a delivery truck downtown and starts work at 5:00 am. the first day keith went with him on his runs.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

thanks giorgio.

i love fashion tv. i live in corner brook, newfoundland where the height of fashion is a new north face fleece. often i've been away and come home with new clothes (usually from vintage shops) and wonder "what were you thinking?" - clothes that seem too outrageous for the streets of corner brook. but fashion is part of the world i live in. i make yarn and knitwear that i hope people will want to put on their bodies. so i'm constantly seeking inspiration. i sit and knit in front of the tv and watch the runways of the world for colour inspiration. giorgio' armani's fall/winter 2009/10 collection inspired this yarn. the whole collection was black and grey with only a touch of rusty pink. beautifully subtle. i made up alot of this yarn - one skein to sell as is and a couple more that i knit up into one of my big cowls.

Friday, October 23, 2009

with one month to go...

i leave for toronto a month from today for the one of a kind show (nov.26th- dec.7). this week they started advertising my spinning workshop on their blog and on their website home page. i'm one of three offering do-it-yourself workshops. one of my goals for the weekend is to prepare 20 2 ounce batts to include in the kits.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

green and gold

late autumn. my world is green and gold. for the next 6 months it will be grey and white. i need to keep making my own colour.

what does abigail see?

yesterday i spread out my finished skeins of yarn on the studio floor. i'm aiming for 100 skeins for the toronto one of a kind show at the end end of november. so i wanted to count how many i had done. and also see what colours i had the least of. so i divided them into piles of colours, naturals, light and dark etc.

last night i went to put them back in the bin and discovered that my little terrier dog abigail had added her big bone (that she almost never plays with) to the red pile. does she see colour? did the similarity of shape make her think it was a room full of bones? or was it all a fluke?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

did i mention how much i love my greenhouse?

this spring we had a little greenhouse built. it extended the growing season by weeks. it gave use deliscious tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers. it was a place for me to go and hang out when i needed a break from work.
every autumn we struggle with our big wooden lawn chairs to get them through a narrow door in our tiny shed. they fill the shed, which means nothing else in there is accessible all winter long. yesterday keith casually put them in the greenhouse for winter. later this week we'll cover the greenhouse with a big tarp to hopefully preserve the plastic for next year.
in the afternoon it snowed...

Monday, October 19, 2009

what's all around me

this past week i've been working so hard (at dyeing and spinning and knitting) that i haven't been taking time to notice how quickly fall is passing. yesterday was breath-takingly beautiful. clear blue skies and sunshine. so marilee and i took the dogs up to massey drive for a walk around tipples pond. it had been a frosty night and the frost was still visible in protected areas - sparkling now in the sunlight. the pond was still. the leaves crisp and colourful under our feet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

the thundering sound of leaves falling

last night we had our first heavy frost. this morning, standing outside in the backyard, the sound of falling leaves was thundering. crisp and heavy, colliding and crashing on top of one another as they fall to the ground.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


this is crunch time for all craftspeople who participate in fall/christmas craft fairs. flat out production. long hours and breaks just to eat and sleep. i have 37 days before i leave for toronto for the 11 day one of a kind show. i know how much product i need to take with me to make this show worth my while. i know how much i have to produce each day to meet that goal. so i'm not looking up...
at the same time i need to be creative and inspired. montreal gave me a wealth of inspiration - colours, shapes, ideas for future products. my little holiday continues to feed me.
this skein is called "old montreal" - inspired by the range of "greys", the textures of the stonework of old montreal.

Friday, October 16, 2009

what i loved about montreal. day 3

my third and final day in montreal we spent in old downtown montreal. my son and his girlfriend both studied history (she is presently doing her phd in history - city planning) so they were perfect guides. montreal was established as a fortified "city" in the 1640's and there are still buildings dating from that time. many of the roads and sidewalks are still brick. it was a clear crisp autumn day. outdoor cafes and buskers and sidewalk portrait artists (the great dane dog in the photo had just had his portrait done). the ghoulish hallowe'en decorations in the photo were the best i've ever seen and seemed to fit right in. i took alot of photos of architectural details (architecture is not what my home town is noted for so this was inspiring!)
of course 3 days in montreal were not enough. i didn't get to any museums or galleries. but i have "the groundwork" in my head now and know what to do on my next visit.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

what i loved about montreal. day 2.

well, day 2 was all about food. we spent most of the day at the market - a sprawling indoor/outdoor market. i photographed colour and sampled bread and cheese and fruit. we bought the most perfect little pumpkin for $1.00 and that evening my son made thanksgiving dinner - everything we ate came from the market.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

what i loved about montreal. day 1

i just spent 3 days in montreal visiting with my son and his girlfriend. here are some of the things i loved.

1. vintage shops. i had so many ideas for product display. i would have bought this stand if i could have sent it home and used it to display my yarn and product at craft shows. and use it in the garden in the summer. i did finally find an old glove mold to use to show off my fingerless gloves.

2. bicycles are everywhere in montreal. (not in corner brook). montreal has recently introduced the "bixi" bike system where you can rent a bike at one location, ride it around all day and leave it at another location at the end of the day. very dutch!

3. food. food from any country you can think of. here we had a chilean lunch. i had a salad with avocado oil. the smoothest oil i have ever tasted. brought a bottle back with me. we also ate indian and chinese.

4. the first time i was in montreal was for expo '67. i was 17. very impressionable. i remember the homes with outdoor staircases. it makes so much sense. gives more room inside and acts as a fire-escape. some of them are very ornate.

5. the first day we spent walking in the plateau area. lots of neat shops - yarn and vintage clothing etc. lots of ethnic mix. here was a Portuguese park - gorgeous blue and white tiles.

6. coffee is an important part of my life. it has to be strong. this was probably the best cappachino i've had in north america. had to take a photo of it to remember...

7. montreal seems more european than north american. the style, the pace, the language. continental breakfast.

Friday, October 9, 2009

precious gifts

in canada we are heading into thanksgiving weekend. it's a time to reflect on what we have in ours lives to be thankful for. for me it is first - the family and friends i have in my life. the sharing of love and support and well-wishes. it is being able to support myself doing what i love. it is living in a country that allows me, as an older woman, to feel strong and independent.
today i'm heading off to montreal for a few days. my son and his girlfriend are living there now and this will be my first trip to visit with them. montreal is a vibrant french/english-speaking city. this is going to be an exciting adventure. my son told me to bring good walking shoes because he wants to show me his new city.
my friend barb (who has lived in montreal)gave me maps and lists of places (galleries, shops, restaurants etc.) that she loves. and yesterday brenda gave me one of her beautiful hand-dyed scarves to take so that i will feel elegant. i'm ready.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


we've had days of rain but the skies cleared for a short while yesterday. i took advantage of it by getting out the dye pots. the forcast was for rain in the afternoon so i set up in the greenhouse for a little protection. i've been wanting some royal blue and some peach to spin with. the peach colour was tricky (the ball of yarn in the picture was my colour inspiration). my background is in painting. with paint, i know how to mix any colour. but dyes are different. with paint you always start with the lightest colour and add the darker ones to get the hue you want. with dyes, the intensity is equal (in other words yellow is as strong as turquoise - or stronger) so you either call on your dyeing buddy brenda for advice (which i do) or you experiment (which i do) and end up with unexpected colours. my first attempt at peach turned out too brown but i got it on the second. i'm keeping notes...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

a sign

when i was a rug hooker, and starting up my "island sweet fibre arts" business, i hooked this sign. i have continued to use it at craft fairs. it's portable and i still like the "feel" of it. but it doesn't say much about what i do now. when i'm "off-island" the first question is "what island are you from?" last year at toronto's one of a kind sale i realized i needed a new sign. during slow times at the sale i designed my new sign. it had to say "handspun" and "newfoundland". it had to be made of the materials i now use. i decided on a felted sign - light and easy to roll up for portability. i wanted to imbed some of my own handspun in the felting. i've never felted and don't know the process, but my friend brenda does. so this past week brenda and i got started on it. the first step was making felt "paper" for the text. i pre-carded a mixture of blue fleece. here is brenda laying down thin layers of fleece on top of styrofoam. we also "decorated" with little bits of silk that brenda had brought. the final effect is like the ocean. brenda then put a mesh screen over top and sponged a seaweed "alganate" mixture on top of the screen and let it soak down into the fleece. it took 2 days to dry. i removed the screen. the "paper" was stiff and manageable. i then cut out my letters. next week we'll prepare the background.