Monday, October 31, 2011

early snowstorm

well. a day later than the rest of the eastern seaboard, western newfoundland got hit with it's first snowstorm of the season.

last year we had no snow at all until january. i've still been waiting for the rain to stop and for the perfect day to rake the leaves and put away the lawn furniture. i think i waited too long...

Sunday, October 30, 2011


with the first snowfall earlier in the week i began to feel a little festive. this is the first autumn in years that i haven't been working flat out getting ready for the craft fairs. so i've had time to do a little early online(etsy)christmas shopping. and for the first time in years i'm making some christmas presents. here are a few new yarns that have been inspired by "the glow".
fruit cake
christmas lights in the snow

Saturday, October 29, 2011


our little book club met at my house last night. i spent all day preparing. cleaning and cooking. i don't do this often (entertain) so when i do it's always a delightful challenge.

our meetings are always centred around the location and themes in the book. this one was about an 18th century parisian murderer who lacked a soul but had an extraordinary sense of smell.

abigail sported a banadana tied to the side in the french manner.
the cuisine was french and i incorporated potatoes and leeks from our garden plot. the dinner conversation swirled around memories of smells. marilee came up with a perfume game (with little samplers of perfumes (we had to come up with word descriptions for the scents and guess whether they were intended for a man or a woman). the book was very dark. but the evening, with good friends, was very light.

Friday, October 28, 2011

early in the week i was approached by pocketchange - an online shopping blog (that speaks to "the creative homemaker, the fashionista and the tech fanatic alike") to do an interview for their site. here it is:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

some of the white stuff

we awoke yesterday to snowfall. not much in corner brook but other parts of newfoundland really got hit. a reminder that winter is on it's way. so this

weekend, when the rain stops, bring in the lawn furniture. rake the leaves and cover over the greenhouse with it's winter tarp.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

when the colour goes

when the colour goes in autumn i get sad. it's time to turn inward. my field of observation narrows to the circle of light from the lamp. for the next few months i have to rely on my imagination. on my photographs. on my sketchbook notes for inspiration. yesterday i dyed fleece the colours of the birch leaves on the still green grass. and the fuchsia - the last of the hanging plants to still be blooming. and that's it...

Monday, October 24, 2011

what's left to do...

these past few weeks i've been pre-occupied with planning for and going to jackson's arm. and as a result, my end of autumn preparation has been put on hold. winter in newfoundland can arrive suddenly and i don't want to be caught off-guard. so yesterday was devoted to catching up.

in the morning, marilee and i went to our community garden plots and dug up the leeks (the last of the produce in the garden). later this week we'll take a few bags of leaves over to spread on the beds and dig them into the soil in the spring. abigail found the last pea of the season in a neighbouring plot.

i brought back thyme from the garden and brought it into the house to use fresh for the next few months. delicate herbs don't winter over here.

in the late afternoon i made jam from the damson plums i'd picked in jackson's arm.

what's left to do now? by the end of the week most of the leaves will have fallen so there will be lots of raking. and tying up the small bushes in burlap before the first snow falls. and then quietly wait for spring...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

jackson's arm. the project. part 2.

this is what greeted me when i arrived in jackson's arm this past week. rows of dyed and carded fleece ready to be spun. and a group of eager women ready to learn.

by the end of the 3rd day, the 4 or 5 women who persisted were spinning like pros and they'll now be able to teach the others who had spent more time carding and knitting.
and also teach others in the community. on the first day, a local teacher brought her little art class in - they were doing a unit on textiles - and they had a tour and a turn at carding.

and yes - i did teach plying...

and it wasn't all work. lots of tea breaks with deliscious homemade goodies

and lots of singing. and, when on the rare occassion. when everyone stopped talking and laughing, you could still hear margaret humming hyms. she found it helped her spinning...

Friday, October 21, 2011

jackson's arm. the place. part 2

i got back last night from my 2nd week of teaching in jackson's arm. this return trip felt like going home. and i'm already plotting how and when i'm going to get back. keith drove out to pick me up yesterday so he's in on the plan now. he remembers going to jackson's arm as a child, before the norther penninsula road was complete, and catching "the steamer" at the dock to go to conche where his mother had grown up. very little had changed in the 40 years since he'd been there. the old warf. the buildings. but all is quiet now.

on the first evening, after class, shirley (the wonderful woman i am staying with) took me on a hike through the woods up behind her house to the lighthouse look-out.

again, the weather was amazing - mild and sunny autumn days. and i enjoyed my morning walk to the workshop every day. the only movement was the smoke rising from the chimneys. the occassional seagull flying past and landing on a rock in the cove.

on the 2nd evening shirley picked me up and took me on a tour to sop's arm (a nearby community where she was from).

many of the residents (shirley's family included) were from sop's island which was resettled in the late 1960's. we visited shirley's uncle joe who, at 86, still doesn't feel at home in sop's arm and longs for his life on the island.
(that's sop's island in the distance).
we met up with shirley's friend pat, and came back to shirley's home to pick "damsal" plums before supper.

this morning, back in corner brook, i feel like i've left behind a lover...

Monday, October 17, 2011

making it ap(ply)

i head back to jackson's arm tomorrow for 3 more days. this time i'll be teaching spinning on the wheel.
when i learned how to spin 4 years ago i was taught how to ply (2 or more yarns spun together in the opposite direction from which they were originally spun). i haven't plied since. i don't like the looks of plied yarn. i feel it lacks the exuberance of a single. it seems to be strangled. but over 80% of spinners disagree with me. so i'll be teaching plying and trying not to pass on my prejudice! all weekend i was practising my plying...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

jackson's arm. the project.

6 months ago i was approached by the community of jackson's arm to come and teach a group of women how to dye and spin yarn. over the past few years they have purchased an old house and turned it into a museum. on the same property, which is in the middle of town, they also renovated a workshop, a loft, a sheep shed and a garden (which has become a community garden)

the next stage of the project was to have something happening at the museum. something that would draw tourists and bring income to the community. the women of jackson's arm can knit (they are amazing knitters). what they need is a product that draws on their traditional techniques and patterns but that is contemporary and unique.
so this past week i worked with 9 women, teaching them how to dye fleece. kool-aid as a starter. then natural dyes from plants they had gathered - alders, goldenrod, pearly everlasting etc. materials from their kitchens - tea bags, onion skins (that's what's cooking up in the pot...)
acid dyes the following day...

we hung the dyed fllece out on the alder bushes to dry in the sun and wind

in the late afternoon i taught them how to card and use the drop spindle with the fleece they had dyed.

they came back on thursday all having spun a little skein.

for homework they'll knit up an item that incorporates their skein of yarn - a hat, some mitts etc. on tuesday i go back up for three days and i will teach them how to use the spinning wheel. and we'll brainstorm on products to knit with their hand dyed, hand spun yarn.
eventually they want their own sheep. they all have memories of the sheep in jackson's arm. of their mothers and grandmothers dyeing and spinning. one woman said she remembers being kept out of school to sit on the sheep as her mother sheared them (her father being away fishing). they want to bring this back...