Monday, January 31, 2011

when it came, it came hard

we had no snow for december and most of january. but this past week it snowed almost every day. so now, to go for walks, i need snowshoes. and abigail hops from one print to another. or we walk along the snowmobile trails. and jump out of the way when we hear them coming.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

something lovely

on friday my 3 students came back and made felted vessels. they were to be biographical so the shapes and colour choices were to be personal. (my 3rd student took hers home to add "handles"). next weeek they will embellish them. the process is magical. the finished products are lovely.

Friday, January 28, 2011


for the past month much of my energy has been focused on getting ready for the atlantic craft trade show that takes place in halifax next weekend (feb. 5-7). it's the first trade show i've done (a trade show is designed to find businesses that will carry work wholesale). i'll be taking just my yarn and knitting kits. this work has been nominated for "excellence in product design". the challenge will be to bring enough work to represent my range of yarn and kits and to display it in an eye catching way. always something new...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

one step ahead

yesterday my students came to my house and i taught them how to wet felt. i just learned over the christmas holidays. it's an important lesson for teachers to learn something new. it keeps things fresh and also helps you understand how demanding it is for the students. they were sensational - full of enthusiasm, and turned out some gorgeous pieces. on friday they're coming back to make felt vessels.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

big and little

with the decision this year not to knit for shows, but only for my etsy shop, it has given me freedom to knit for pleasure. i finished off my first "pleasurable" item(s) this week - a debbie bliss sweater for lucy. she chose the pattern and the yarn. lucy is almost 6. tall and thin. this is a 7-8 size so it should fit for many years. excruciatingly gorgeous cashmere and merino yarn. and as a little surprise, i knit up a matching sweater for lucy's doll julia. and i've started a little button-up vest for finn - a pattern i knit for my son almost 30 years ago...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


on days like yesterday (raging snowstorm that shut down the west coast of the island), i think of mr. mole of "wind in the willows" burrowing down into his little house hole. in my case - peering out every once in a while, opening the door and abigail darting in out out for a pee. because the day was quiet and long, i spun in the morning, but in the afternoon lay on the couch in the bay window and read - a few books on textile surface design that i got mostly for teaching but find they are leading my dreams onto "what next?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

luscious locks

because i'm now wholesaling my yarn to shops, it's crucial that i keep my material costs down while keeping the quality of my product up. i love adding unusual fibres to my yarns - plant and animal fibres, angelina glitter, cut up bits of novelty yarns. and i love, after carding, spinning in mohair fibre locks to give added visual and textural interest. colured fibre locks are expensive. so a few weeks ago i ordered up $200.00 worth of undyed locks from dyeing for colour and have been dyeing them myself. luscious colours of my own making. this is heaven. and i'm saving money...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

colours without names

yesterday, all day, our first storm of the winter raged. i spent my time dyeing and spinning and watching "letters to juliet". an ok movie (there are some movies i'm happy to watch alone). what i loved about this movie, while the snow swirled around me, was the colours of verona and sienna. they influenced my colours of the day. i think these are my favourite colours right now. colours that can't be given a name. colours that slide from one to another ("is that yellow? no it's grey. now it's pink...) colour shifting. colours that seem to reach into your soul and settle there. colours with history.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

a deep sigh of relief

yesterday evening the corner brook pulp and paper withdrew it's proposal to test the burning of used tires in corner brook. the envirnoment minister was scheduled to make his decision yesterday and my guess is that they let the mill know that there was a lot of opposition to the plan. i was in shock when i heard this. i really was expecting the worst. and although this morning there are gale force winds and snow squalls, i stepped outside and took a deep breath. and a deep sigh of relief. thank-you to everyone who helped fight.

Friday, January 21, 2011


yesterday i took my students to a talk by visiting nova scotian potter jim smith. the talk was called "functional beauty" and was about the decorated surface of north american pottery. next week my students will be making felted vessels and then embellishing them. so the talk was really inspiring. what i loved about jim's presentation, aside from being able to look at some really amazing work, was how generous jim was. not only in divulging technical information to other potters in the audience, but also in his enthusiastic support and admiration for other potters. i find this over and over again in the craft world. the sharing. that's one of jim's vases in the photo. love the warmth of those colours. if you're in the corner brook area, he's giving another talk today at 11:30 in the fine arts building.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

freshly fallen

we've had snow off and on for days now. this morning is still. freshly fallen snow rests on every surface. it is beautiful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


we have a new environment minister in newfoundland. and within the next few days he will be making a decision on the proposal to test the burning of tires at the kruger pulp and paper mill here in corner brook. we've managed to forstall the decision up until now with a protest march (that thankfully received national attention) and a large number of protest letters. we need all the help we can get. so, if you agree with me that the burning of millions of tires in the centre of a community is not the solution, please write to ross wiseman today at
for more background information, check out the link onrobyn's blog

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

on just such an evening

on this long cold dark snowy evening. the animals curled up in front of the fire. i cooked up a pot of roasted garlic and navy bean soup and baked wholewheat and sunflower seed bread. and finished my hooked mat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

it came. softly.

we've had the craziest winter so far. virtually no snow. unheard of for an area that averages over 200 cm. the ski slopes at marble mountain have yet to open.
but this weekend the snow came. not in a storm like in st. john's last week. but quietly. softly. a paradise for dog walking with friends.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

flowers in winter

on these short grey days of winter we bring colour back into the house with cut flowers. yesterday keith brought in these coral roses to mix with last week's red carnations, subtle and elegant freesia, and these giant yellowy-orange daisies from marilee that were the inspiration for this yarn. and the days are getting longer. and a little brighter. and then my garden flowers will start to grow.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

the creative habit

i stopped painting over 10 years ago. partly because i didn't want the pressure of coming up with the next "big idea". i felt i had nothing more i wanted to paint. i wanted life to have less pressure. i wanted my creativity to flow more freely. and it does. to such an extent that i don't think much about creativity any more. i started teaching again a couple of weeks ago, and began reading twyla tharp's "the creative habit" partly to remember what it's like to be at the beginning of an artistic career. twyla is a new york choreographer. but everything she talks about can be related to any art form - music, writing, visual art. she assumes that we are all creative. this book is about pulling it out. and nurturing it through hard work. and habits.

Friday, January 14, 2011

two islands

in the evenings i have been rug hooking. hard. i'm making a couple of mats that will be in an exhibition on guernsey island. at the folk and costume museum (love that name...) mar.15th- oct.31. called "hooked between two islands - guernsey and newfoundland hand hooked rugs". i wish i could go to the opening. the show will then come to newfoundland. the deadline to get the mats in is the end of the month so i'm hooking hard...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

new stock

i've spent the past few weeks working on an order for a good yarn in st. john's. finished it up and sent it off early this week. jenny posted this photo yesterday. the batts would be perfect for robyn love's spinning workshop in february.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

and bounty

every couple of years christacomes home from b.c for a visit and brings with her baskets of luscious hand dyed roving. this visit the timing was perfect for me. i'm working hard to get product made for the upcoming craft trade show in halifax and time is what i need. so, to be able to purchase some of christa's fleece to supplement my own in my spinning is a real time saver. and it's great to be inspired by someone else's colours...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


some of the things in my life that i'm feeling particularly thankful for these days:
1. brian finished renovating the front hall yesterday and i couldn't be happier. the new ceramic floor, the freshly painted walls.(i'll be painting the door a dark orangey-red when the weather gets warmer). the shelf over the coats to hold baskets of hats and scarves and mitts, the shelf on the radiator for wet mitts and a bowl to hold keys. and the old lamp brought back to life. thank-you brian.
2. an evening spent with good friends. good food, good talk. thank-you friends (and virginia woolf)..
3. and flora (who last month was diagnosed with kidney failure) is thriving on her medication. a happy and contented cat. thank-you medicine.

Monday, January 10, 2011

i'm older than mrs. dalloway

i haven't read virginia woolf since i was in my 20's. it was my turn to choose a book for our book club and i settled on "mrs. dalloway" - the ruminations of a middle aged london hostess as she plans a party to celebrate the end of world war 1. her expectations, her reminiscences are interwoven with descriptions of the city, old friends appear. strangers surface and fade away. i love this book. a jewel.
tonight i host our little dinner based on the book. i don't think virginia woolf cared much for eating. very few food references. bartlett pears, severed chicken floating in sauce (i'll have to make the vegan equivalent). and red carnations.
this is my "mrs. dalloway" yarn.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

the part i don't like

every 6 months or so i run out of colour and have to mix up more dyes. i love making yarn - the dyeing, the carding, the spinning. but i hate mixing dyes. sometimes i use natural dyes - from plants i collect or purchase. but to get the rich colours i love i have to use chemical dyes. this involves mixing powders that are toxic. and although i use every precaution, it's still something that bothers me. at the end of the day i have an infinite range of colours to work with. so it has to be worth it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

this old house

i love the house i live in. it was custom built in the 1950's by the original owner and has some delightfully quirky features. we've lived here almost 14 years and are just the 3rd owners. when we moved in, this light fixture was up in a cupboard. it needs little chains to hold it up and i've never taken the time to look for them. i showed it to brian, thinking it would be perfect for the "elegant" front hall and he's going to fashion something to make it work. i love that it will finally be put to use.

Friday, January 7, 2011


a whole lot of changes happening around here this past week. the front hall is looking wonderful. the floor is in and this weekend i'll be painting. (i'll be posting "after" photos). the weather has turned. winter feels like it's finally here and yesterday, for a little while the sun shone in a crisp, clear blue sky - that's the yarn inspired by the day. and today i start teaching again. it's a 3rd year course at the university that i teach almost every winter. teaching makes me think differently. makes me question my assumptions. makes me look carefully at how and what i express.