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Post #3034: There’s no such things as too many goals

It’s fall and there are lots of spiders in my home and studio all of a sudden. Sadly (for the spiders), all the flies have departed quick-split! It’s odd timing – but I suppose that’s the fall pattern: the flies die off and the spiders come inside.

We’re back from New York, me returning on Monday and Brian home yesterday after working in Vancouver for a week. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so good about returning home in all my life – something about leaving a mega-city and suburb in the US and flying into a small gulf island paradise made me want to break down weeping. I didn’t, of course – my float plane pilot would have thought that was strange – but I felt it.  And I’ve been feeling it all this week when I’ve mostly been working from home and getting out to walk or cycle or do yoga every day. And speaking of yoga! I normally hate it, but have discovered a class that I don’t. More on that in a future post once I’ve been to more than one class.

As usual my fall plans include “get in shape” and “eat less sugar and flour” which are on the boring side of things – but essential. I’d like to lose some weight and also just feel healthier. This summer was busy, but somehow not as active as I would have liked, and after a great winter/spring of cycling every day, I stopped doing anything too strenuous from June right through until this week. So I’m on a bit of a kick to be a little bit active every day. Today’s plan is a bike ride after I’m done work – 10 km – or so. It’s supposed to rain this evening, but it looks like the nice weather should hold until I’m done.

img_20160914_120420779I’ve got a lot on my plate this fall, not to mention all the fall sewing projects that I’ve got mapped out on the mood board. We’ll see how many of these get started/finished. I’m working on a Bristol skirt at the moment, and I can’t say I love the pattern. I’m hoping that with a modification or two it will become easier to sew (mostly I hate the method they recommend putting the elastic in the waistband, and some of the pattern drafting leaves a little to be desired). I’m crossing my fingers to get that done later day, so maybe there will be pictures of that soon. I also just spent some $$ on a couple of pieces of merino – one jersey and one sweater weight for a top and wrap. And I’ve got scads of fabric to make shopping/tote bags. So much really – I’ve been on a bit of a fabric spree lately. And a yarn spree too – I just ordered enough yarn to make a baby blanket (the cutest one ever – just wait and see) and an afghan for use around the house. So I’m set for autumn making, and surely don’t have enough time to actually complete all the things.

And that’s okay – if I don’t/when I don’t do all the things I hope to do. I make a lot of plans, so if only 50% or less get done – I’m still ahead of the game.

In response to the question “I do too many things, what do I give up?”, my meditation teacher once responded “Give up thinking that you do too many things.” Which comes to mind frequently when I’m planning my time. Often it’s the *feeling* of being overwhelmed that is more the issue than actually not being able to do all the things. And also, letting go of things that don’t get done. Often the feeling of being “too busy” is about not being present and always thinking on to the next task or place we have to be. When I make plans to do many things, I am getting better about letting some of them go undone – which allows me to dream all I want without beating myself up when my reality falls a tad short. This doesn’t count for things that involve serious commitments to other people – but in the realm of making, household projects and so forth – there is so much latitude to enjoy oneself in the planning even if the work never gets done.

Speaking of planning things and finishing, I’m wearing a wrap today that I made on a whim in May while sitting in a two-day union meeting. Stultified by the affair, I ran to the local knit shop in Victoria and bought 4 skeins of the most beautiful yarn to make a wrap and a crochet hook in the appropriate size. Over the course of those days and a bit more time afterwards, I self-drafted this rectangular shawl which I plan to make lots of use of this fall and winter:

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I really do prefer a rectangular wrap over a triangular one (on me). I had mostly forgotten about this project, but today when I was in the studio, it was a bit cool – and I noticed this hanging off the loom (awaiting blocking, which it still needs). I threw it on to keep warm and was reminded of how much I love the yarn and the chunky crochet texture. It’s worsted weight, so sure to ward off any chills.

So autumn projects are afoot! (I hear Brian in the music studio building a stage right now – more on that later too!) And I’m back to work.

 

 

 

 

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Post #3031: Knitting in New York

This holiday is a visiting-oriented trip, so there is much sitting around and socializing. First in Croton-on-Hudson (where the above photo was taken), and now in Huntington Long Island where my brother-in-law lives.

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Basically, I’m hanging out in suburbia and it’s giving me lots of time with my niece and my knitting – much more relaxed than any other trip I’ve taken to New York.

The weather here has been mixed, and the house we are staying at has a swimming pool – so besides knitting, I have done a lot of walking around streets without sidewalks, and swum laps. Today I walked to a fabric store and bought a couple of things but no spectacular finds. Tomorrow we’ll go and do some type of touristy activity since the rain is clearing off – but mostly this is a trip about hanging out and knitting. Not so bad.

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Post #3030: Canning complete

As of our leave today, we have filled our larder with almost every possible thing: crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, pumpkin, corn, corn salsa, curry sauce, sweet pickles, pickled beets, pickled asparagus, jams, preserves, and more. We are totally ready for the eating season to begin when we come home.

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Post #3029: Almost ready to turn on the fall projects.

It very suddenly feels like fall here – the leaves have been turning for the last couple of weeks, and this morning some much needed rain falls on my yard outside the studio (the sunrise photo above was taken last week during a sunnier commute). And though I see many of my friends upset by this turn of weather, west coast summers feeling always so brief, I myself welcome autumn with an open heart. By the end of August, I always feel like it’s time for a return to more routine and structure, and I love the return of the rains which make our part of the world so green for much of the year.

I’ve been thinking about fall projects a lot – I’m working on two different knit scarves at the moment, one of them is part of a memorial knitting project I am doing in the wake of my friend Bronwyn’s death, and the other is a lace stole that I am making for myself. The memorial knitting is great for travel and watching TV, the lace knitting is best done in silence, or to the sound of an audio book and nothing else. I have no great photos of either, but this photo of the memorial knit (triangular scarf) shows the way the colour striping from the two gradient yarns is working together. I am in love with this colour combination:


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I’ve got some fall sewing also on my mind. I recently went to the wedding of my ex-boyfriend and sewed a whole outfit in honour of the occasion – dress, wrap (which I swapped out for a crochet wrap instead), and clutch:

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This was my first time working with a lace overlaid on a satin lining, and I modified the Coco pattern for knits because I like the shape of it. I got lots of compliments on the dress, but there is one thing I need to change and that’s the fact that because the lining and the lace are different weights, there is a weird drag on the hem. I’m going to cut the lining free at the hem and hem it separately – which should fix it as a fancy dress that I can wear in the future. The wrap is the Elmira pattern from Seamwork/Collette and while I didn’t wear it with the dress in the end, I have found it to be a useful piece for late summer. I would like to make this again but lengthen it a bit to account for my bustline. The wrap is supposed to fall towards the waist, but in my case it sits high. That works, but I would like to size it properly for me. The clutch was made from some remnant upholstery fabric and some leftover dress lining using the Seamwork Valencia pattern.

In doing this marathon sewing blitz (all three pieces were completed in a four-day period during which I was also working), I was reminded that I really like the challenge of garment sewing and I would like to get back to more of it this fall. I’ve got fabric for skirts and a t-shirt, and an open cardigan. Additionally I’ve got two pieces of beautiful double gauze – enough for one shirt and a dress – it’s not really a seasonal fabric, but I tend to layer anyways.

I’m also itching to put another quilt together after finishing the baby quilt that is being gifted next week:

New baby quilt ready to go NY with me at the end of the month.

A photo posted by Megan (@redcedar) on

I’ve got some remnants put together from this one that I might use to create a full size quilt, but another baby is coming to our family in the new year so there may just be a replica baby quilt made from them and I’ll pull together a new house quilt with stuff I’ve got in the stash. I would like to eventually finish off the Tula Pink 100 blocks that I started in 2014 (I’ve made 38) as well since I quite like the hodgepodge effect of many small blocks/many fabrics.

In any case, as with the start of any new season, I am awash in new project ideas – some of which will happen, some which will not. That’s the beauty of planning – it’s a creative act in itself, and when it’s not work related, you only have to finish what you feel like finishing.

Before all that – we’ve got a little holiday coming up as we fly to NY tomorrow to visit a friend in Hudson-on-Croton, and my brother and sister-in-law and their new family addition on Long Island. I can’t say that I am over-eager to travel to the US in the run-up to election madness – from an outsider’s perspective, the US looks very unsafe to me from a variety of angles – but we will be mainly in the suburbs visiting people we are long overdue to see, and that makes the trip worthwhile. After this though, it will be a very long time before I go south again – the dollar, the potential right-wing government, and the internal violence being what they are. I have to admit to being frightened for my US friends and family, and by extension, frightened for Canada and Mexico – because it’s only a matter of time before that shit impacts both sides of the border (and I’m just glad I’m living on a small island that takes two ferries to get to).

But! For the next twelve days or so, I will be in the USian east, somewhere I have not visited for four years -and I’ve never spent any time on Long Island. I’m just considering it a bit of an adventure in the upside-down-world (for what is Donald Trump if not the shadow side of Justin Trudeau – liberal capitalism has a little bit of socialism on one side, and a little bit of fascism on the other after all).

That means my knitting will come along for the ride, but the sewing will have to wait until we return – though I am crossing my fingers that a couple of fabric shops will get visited during my travels, possibly a knit shop or two as well. I’ll try to post from the road – and will definitely start project posting on our return!

 

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Post #3028: What has changed.

On Friday night, we dragged the fold-out couch from my studio out on the deck of the studio in order to watch the Perseid meteor shower. It’s now Monday and our outdoor bed has yet to be dragged back inside – and I think it’ll stay there the rest of the week even though I’m back at work today and I don’t get to luxuriate under the trees quite as long in the morning (though I do wake in time to see sunrise).

We’ve been here on Gabriola Island for about two and a half months now – and this is just one of the things so different from our last home – the ability to sleep out during the warm nights of summer (something we could never do in Hastings-Sunrise or Grandview-Woodlands because of light pollution, noise, and just general safety). Of course, this isn’t the only difference in my life these days, moving from the city to the country this time around has been much more of a transition than when I last took flight for rural community. This time around, for example, I am not commuting to the city for work. Not only that, I have elected to work from home three days per week so I feel much more fully attached to my home and community. So what else has changed?

  • Although I have been working for much of the summer, my at-home orientation 3 days per week means that I work much earlier in the day and so finish much earlier also. Although my actual number of hours worked/to myself is the same – this orientation of time makes it feel like I have many more hours of my own with which to hike, swim, or go into “town” for things. It sometimes feels as though I’m summer holidays even as I’m completing work tasks and participating in teleconferences – the space around me is so different and my time allocation is more of my own choosing. Also, going from house to studio is a commute of one minute, which means I don’t have the hour plus commuting time I had in the city or the 2 hours plus commuting time I have when I go into Nanaimo for work.
  • Working at home – I exercise my body differently than I do in a cubicle – standing and walking around during conference calls, sitting in the arm chair when I have to read a bunch of documents. In a regular office environment I sit at my desk in front of my monitor eight hours a day (often only leaving to use the washroom). At home, I do what’s more natural and move around my space according to where I need to be at the moment.
  • We spend a lot more time outside here. Granted, it’s summertime – of course we are outside a lot! But Brian and I both notice that the orientation of our new house encourages using outside space seamlessly with inside. At our last home, the backyard was a level below the main floor of the house. At this place our back deck is contiguous with our main living room. Also, we no longer have neighbours close by which means that outside feels a lot more private and like “our space”. With half an acre (our house smack dab in the middle) we’ve got lots of room on all sides, plus lots of trees, shrubs, and fencing for privacy. Also, ocean swimming is right down the road and there are hiking trails everywhere. I’ve barely scratched the surface of places to go on this island.
  • This is going to sound strange but…. I don’t feel the need to bathe every day here. I suppose it’s because I’m not grimy from the city or germy from taking public transit- but I average a shower every 2-3 days instead of every 1-2.
  • We don’t have to lock up our bikes. I went into the hardware store the other day to get a chain and lock so that we could leave our bikes outside (instead of locked in the storage room) and the salesman refused to sell one to me because it was a waste of my money. In East Vancouver, I kept my bike in a locked shed, and I locked it to itself or another bike in the shed just to make sure no one would take it.
  • I say yes to pretty much every invitation. Want to learn how to make ceramics? Yes. Want to come for a boat ride? Yes. Want to buy some pickling cucumbers from a neighbour? Yes. Want to stop by for a drink? Yes. I’ve got to meet people after all, and that means saying yes to pretty much every invitation which is the opposite of city-me.
  • Further to that last point – I am much more willing to go out here. It’s just much easier when you don’t have to battle traffic, parking, or transit full of drunk teenagers. Also, I don’t mind going out alone here because it doesn’t seem to matter. Also, this island is full of really un-hip people (who are also very cool, don’t get me wrong) – so I never feel as though I’m not stylish enough or whatever I would often feel when I went out alone in the city. For that matter, lots of younger women have grey hair here also – there is a lot less makeup and chemicals in daily use by the general population. I love that.

There are other things too, I’m sure, that are working to take away my anxiety about this move – but these are the ones that most come to mind. Of course there is the other side of things also. I notice, immediately that I lack the sense of *centrality* that I have had at work and in the city for the last several years of my life. I realize that I am out of sight and so often out of mind for lots of folks. But that’s ego work that I don’t mind doing, because that sense was always illusory anyhow. I also suspect that until we meet more people, winter could be quite lonely, and it will definitely be very dark on this island with no street lights. I won’t know for some years yet whether we really *fit* here or not – I figure it takes about five years to truly get a sense of that (4.5 years is when I left the Sunshine Coast after realizing it wasn’t a good fit for me) – though so far I have met a great many people who seem like natural and immediate friends.

One thing for sure is that our home space and property are inviting me to dream up the re-creation of every corner into exquisite space – which means on some level I’ve decided that I’m staying and not just for a year or two (because some of these plans are years in the offing). When we first came here I was reluctant to invest too much into any changes upfront, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve felt eager to start making the spaces more *ours*.

It’s been  interesting, this time of transition, and only time will tell how this island will shape us and our future together – but so far I like these things that have changed. I like sleeping outside without fear, I like swimming in the ocean when I’m done work for the day. I like the combination of having privacy with friendly neighbours. So I think I’ll just keep going with that.

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Post #3027: One plus one equals two looms

I’m in the process of putting together loom number two, after moving loom number one to the new house and becoming overwhelmed by it (so big! I’ve never worked with a floor loom! needs a new brake tie-up!).

This second loom came to me via Craigslist and courier and was a very good price indeed – a J-made table loom with a treadle conversion (making it a floor loom). With 22-inches of weaving width it is half the size of my first (also, Craigslist purchase) and a totally different tie-up style.

I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself at the moment because the J-Made came in a box and was in several pieces/totally dismantled. So far I’ve managed to put it mostly together and am working now on the tie-ups. My goal is to have it warped this weekend with some practice yarn.

Funny thing though, while putting this together from pieces, I’ve got a much clearer idea of what needs to happen with the larger loom (even though it’s a different type altogether), and am feeling a lot more confident about getting that going as well. I expect that warping the smaller loom will have a similar effect – once I get a warp successfully on, the larger warping process won’t seem so daunting either.

I realize now that I never did get around to writing about the first loom, partly because I never got it set up after I moved it. Stay tuned for more posts about both looms – I’ve gotten re-energized about weaving now that we are moved and my studio is set up. I’ve also get some sewing and knitting projects on the go – really – I’ve got to start posting about this stuff more!

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Post #3026: In which our home is thoroughly warmed

That photo above pretty much sums up our weekend-long house party that ran from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. Smiling people, music, drinks on the porch – and (not depicted here) some pretty amazing eating.  The cast involved some party mainstays, with a few dropping in at random times – for a total of around 40 people crossing our threshold – and 20+ of those people staying somewhere at our place (inside or tenting) for two or three nights. It was grand. It was busy. It was epic. I am truly grateful for the people in our life and the home that we have now warmed.

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Post #3025: When the dead come calling

This past weekend, we held our housewarming party on Gabriola – and a fine time was had by all (more on that in a future post), but there was one incident that occurred on Saturday morning that has stayed with me and that I want to relay here before any of the details elude me (as memories fade almost as quickly as we make them).

Our housewarming party started on Friday afternoon and went straight through the weekend until Monday morning – with many old friends from my Victoria crew coming together and staying together the entire time. Of course this involved late nights and some staying up drinking. On the very first night, one of my guests left our downstairs cordless phone outside which drained its battery while we slept.

In the morning I saw the phone and brought it into the house, putting it on the kitchen counter with the intention of returning it to its cradle. I left it for a moment while I went upstairs to use the washroom, and a group of friends were standing around  the kitchen chatting. When I came back down, one of my friends said “your phone rang while you were upstairs” – something I hadn’t heard, because the upstairs phone hadn’t run (which in any normal circumstance it would have). Curious about who it was, I took the phone off the counter to see who had called. The first thing I noticed (before I saw the name) was that the phone looked as though it had been answered and the speaker setting was switched on (as indicated by the light). Odd, but dying batteries do weird things…… But even stranger was the fact that the call display showed a name only, no phone number, and it clearly read “Bronwyn Charman” –  the name of our friend who died just over two months ago in Berlin.

You might imagine, I was agog with the discovery, barely able to speak and so I turned the phone display towards three of my friends and said “Look at this – do you see what I see?” Two of them (Mel and Marika) immediately confirmed that they saw the same name on the call display (the other didn’t have his glasses) – but we noted afterwards that I did not prime any of them by telling them what I saw first – I asked them to verify the name cold, without prompting (not out of any design either, I couldn’t speak what I was seeing).

At this point the phone was still active and I was totally confused, so I ran upstairs to the other cordless phone which was sitting in its cradle. On that phone’s display was indicated “Line in Use” as though the line was activated. I sat on the edge of the bed then and said “Hello” into the phone a few times, but the line sounded dead. I picked up the other phone from its cradle and engaged it, and said hello again. After a few tries (I could hear my voice coming through the phone to the dead phone), both phones clicked off.

I immediately scrolled back through the caller display to verify what had happened. The dead phone wouldn’t bring up call display at all (the low battery symbol was flashing) and the other phone that was charged showed no record of the call coming in at all. (Later after I had charged the first phone (that the call came into), I could find no record of the call on that phone either. It was as though no call had come in all morning.)

At this point I was confused, and a bit upset. A few of us started working through possible explanations, wondering how it could have happened in a scientific-rational world but none of the answers we came up with made any sense (see below for more detail on that). It was at that point that a couple of our friends came in from outside where a group of them had been sitting around the patio table (the door between them and us was closed, so they hadn’t heard the commotion inside). We told them what had happened, and Masha asked – how long ago was this? I said – 10-15 minutes….. To which she answered, “Well that makes sense. We were just outside having a conversation about all the people we’ve lost over the last couple of years and how we could invite them all to the party even though they had passed over. We even named them – Bronwyn, Brian, Jesse….. and invited them to join us.”

Yup. That’s right. My friends were outside invoking the dead when our phone rang with the name of our dead friend on call display.

Let’s review a few other facts about this so that it’s clear there is no simple explanation:

  • First off – the phone was pretty much dead and in that state wouldn’t have rung at all. The phone upstairs did not ring even though it was fully charged.
  • The phone had clearly turned itself on, and the speaker was engaged, even though no one had touched it when it rang.
  • Bronwyn died in Berlin just over two months ago, before Brian and I moved, and she never had our phone number on Gabriola Island so it wouldn’t have been programmed into a phone or her computer.
  • I have never received a call from Bronwyn where her name came up on call display – she often phoned from payphones or pay as you go cels, and her number would be all that would come up. Also, she mostly called my cel phone, not our old landline. All this is to say that the phone wouldn’t have had the “memory” of her name from some previous phone call.
  • Her name came up with no phone number. All other calls that have come into that phone in the last few months have come up name first (or Unknown) and then phone number. There was no number attached to this call.
  • The one person I thought might have had a cel phone that came out of her storage locker was on her way to our party also and swore that she didn’t have an old phone from our friend, nor had she called from it.
  • I do not believe that any of friends would pull a prank of this nature, and everyone present was deeply affected by what happened.

Once the initial shock wore off, Kyla said “we better make an offering then,” and she and I put offering items together on the mantle in our living room, and said Buddhist words of loving kindness after a couple minutes of silence during which we focused on her release. Throughout the next day and night, other items were added to the offering, but I don’t believe that she left then or later. I had another moment in the night when I was singing a song that she had sung when we were in our early twenties – and I thought I felt something pass through me, had a bodily experience of what might have been her presence. That – I know – can be chalked up to any number of psychological factors. But the phone call, can not. As much as I would like it to be explained away, I cannot find an answer to this riddle, and I have witnesses to its occurrence.

Phone calls from the dead are a bit of a cliche but there you go – we do not choose the forms that visitations take. If anyone out there has an explanation for how this could have happened (beyond the fact that my group of friends are witches and we carry powerful energies when together) – please suggest away. Otherwise I’m going to have to accept that the friend we are all still grieving has not found her way out of this world just quite yet.