Tuesday, November 30, 2010
this november feels like it has been colder that usual. the two snowfalls we have already had might have something to do with that feeling. but the damp cold we experience out here on the coast, where the temperature hovers just above freezing and the humidity is high, can chill most bones after much time spent outside. i just found out we only have about 8 1/2 hours of daylight these days, and since about eight of those hours are spent at work for me during the week, i feel like i am not spending much time outside at all.
the rain held off most of the weekend and i managed to get outside for a little bit, bundled in layers to fight off the chill. the forest is settling down for the winter, all the decomposing leaves forming a blanket on the forest floor, many of them still under a lingering crust of snow. a few mushrooms poke stubbornly through, here and there. there is one thing that seems to be thriving though, and that is the moss. it coats all surfaces in the woods - trees, rocks, fallen logs and stumps - anywhere where it can gain a purchase. and there are so many different kinds to be found as well. certainly creates a lush feeling forest, even in these waning days of the year.
on that note, seriously? when did we get all the way to the last month of the year? it always comes too fast. but i am swinging fully into the holiday mood, with christmas music and a few decorations starting to come out. i've been lighting candles more frequently in the evenings; their warm glow easing the dark nights as the rain pours down and the wind howls. i've never been much of a tea person, but this year as the cold weather set in i seem to have become some sort of addict. for the holidays i have been in the mood for chocolate mint, and gingersnap teas (although i'm still on the fence about the gingersnap) instead of my usual yerba mate or rooibos. a warm cup helps put me in a cozy seasonal mood.
anyway, in my roundabout way, i'm curious about your traditions, holiday or otherwise. what things do you like to do around this time of year, whether they be outright festive displays, or more subtle things (like a good cup of tea) to lighten up the dark days of winter?
Sunday, November 28, 2010
i have put two new creatures into the shop, two birds with very different looks and characters. I've been working on this pygmy owl for quite a while; his wings and complicated plumage took up a lot of time. he is the first of what i hope will be many birds in flight. made of repurposed and new fabrics (mainly wool), he hangs securely from fishing line attached to a sturdy button on his back.
this steller's jay may be my favourite soft sculpture so far. i love his proud plumage of black and blue, and think his mohawk gives him a cocky character, which is rightly befitting of a jay who loves to squawk and scatter smaller birds as it searches for food. his black head is made from a repurposed velveteen (?, the skirt had no label) skirt, and his body is a mix of linen, silk shantung and denim. He rests comfortably on wire legs wrapped in embroidery thread.
these are likely to be the last couple of items into the shop for the next little bit. I have some custom orders to work on, as well as wanting to spend a bit of time on some gift items. it would seem the holiday season is upon us! today is the first sunday of advent, and i have lit the first candle on my advent krans. here's hoping there'll be some holiday light for you too, if you are one who celebrates.
i also got outside a bit this weekend - photos to come in my next post.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
a shot from a few mornings ago, when it was well below zero (celcius), and the big moon was still high in the sky at eight in the morning. here it sits over mount washington, the local ski hill, still capped with snow most recently from the weekend.
this morning though, a system is moving in and it's snowing heavily and the bare patches are all covered up again. they are predicting a little pile up of snow this morning, but then turning to rain as it continues to warm up. i don't mind it warming up so much as that cold snap was well below normal, but i will miss the clean white landscape. it is supposed to rain for several days, which will turn the island back to brown and green (and dismal - that's a colour, right?). the snow always makes it feel lighter out in these dark days.
however, it is sure to continue snowing up on that mountain above, piling up deep and pure. getting ready for a good season of playing on my snowboard!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
winter seems to have arrived on the coast, early for us as we almost never see snow in november. after a full day of snow on friday that never settled at all, the ground finally got blanketed with white overnight and we woke up to about 10cm, or a few inches. on the rare occasion we do get snow this early, it normally disappears just as quickly, but in this case it seems to be sticking around, and the air is cold outside. we are supposed to be getting a few days of clear and cold to follow, and today i'm happy to be warm and cozy inside.
i've added a few new items to the shop, first a couple small ones and then a big piece. i've been enjoying stitching little shells for ornaments etc, so i thought it might be fun to hang a few on braided cords as necklaces, with a beachcombed feather as accompaniment. this scallop is available now, but the mussel has already been snatched up!
some of you might remember this hanging piece, which was originally "finished" in july. after some months of staring at it, tucked to the side but still in view, i have added some more details to the front, and finally got around to making a label for the back. it is now also available here.
i'll leave you with another chilly shot of the scenery these days. yesterday i drove up island and got this view of the coast range mountains along the way. i'm glad i stopped, as a few kilometres farther along the sun had moved on and the mountains were dark again. i was surprised to discover that the snow got thinner the farther north i drove, with only a dusting here and there, until when i arrived on the little island my parents live on (a short ferry ride from my big island), there was no snow at all!
i am starting to embrace the holiday spirit around here, probably spurred on by the snow. today i am planning some holiday baking of traditional brune kager, a crispy danish cookie that my mom has made my whole life around this time of year, but i have never attempted by myself. at 31, i figured it was about time, although admittedly she helped me make the dough yesterday. i'm on my own for the rolling out of the dough and the baking though, so i hope it turns out well! there are many recipes to be found online, each a little different. i might try to share this one later, if i can decipher the danish recipe from what my mom directed me in yesterday. they are similar to gingerbread i think, but thinner and with a bit more crunch.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
on sunday i ventured out for a bit, a break in the wet weather of november. it was still a dark sort of day, with low hanging clouds obscuring the mountains on the island and the mainland across the water. it felt good to get outside into the fresh air though. the world felt very grey, steely blue; the ocean, beach and overcast sky blending together in one slate tone.
the birds were busy though. lots of gulls scavenging the shoreline, eagles swooping low or paired in trees, their high pitched call floating through the air. all kinds of ducks and seabirds skimmed past in the water. i'm pretty good with birds, but i need to spend a bit more time learning my ducks i think. some of the males have such pretty markings and head shapes. other people too, were out enjoying a sunday walk, or paddle, as i saw many kayaks moving swiftly in the dead calm water. one couple was loading white buckets onto their truck, having filled them with seaweed washed ashore, soon to fertilize their garden
this boat was not having nearly as much fun, abandoned and stripped on the beach. left alone to weather the storms against the rocks. it's supposed to blow tonight, and that exposed point would not be a good spot for anyone.
i had noticed these trees earlier this season, and saw them again as i drove home. free of leaves now, but still heavily weighed down with this small round fruit. anyone know what they are? they are roughly the size of large cherries, mostly yellow but as you can see also orangey-red and a darker, almost purple colour. of course that may just be as they rot on the tree.
there's no chance for daylight photos during the week now, it being mostly dark when i leave in the morning, and mostly dark when i come home again. glad i save these photos for a little midweek shot of nature for you (and me). tonight i'm baking more cookies, walnut rum wafers. i think i've made them before, but i'm not sure (although not being a rum drinker, i can only assume that's why i have rum in the cupboard!).
Sunday, November 14, 2010
i did manage to get out for a beach walk today, but i'll share those shots in my next post. for this one i thought i would show some snippets of crafting and cooking that i did over the weekend. i am working on some new soft sculpture pieces (see below), as well as some drawings that i'm hoping to incorporate into a new project (see above). i don't feel i was as productive as i hoped (isn't that always the way?), but i'm making progress with a few things.
i also found time for a bit of baking, bread and cookies. this walnut bread was a new recipe for me, with a very tasty result. i didn't braid the dough like the recipe directed, preferring instead to make standard loaves that would be more sandwich-friendly. i also made some mexican chocolate cookies, based on a recipe i found in the current "holiday cookies" mag from martha stewart. delicious, with a bit of a kick from the cayenne. i'm hoping to accumulate some cookies in the freezer for holiday giving. next up, i'm thinking some rum walnut cookies.
how about you? hope your weekend was full of crafting and yummy treats, or just relaxing with a good book if that's what you were in the mood for.
Friday, November 12, 2010
perhaps inspired by margie's beautiful frosty and snowy photos, we decided to search out a little winter of our own. up the mountain to the paradise meadows, where we headed out snowshoeing in an overcast day. a few good layers of snow have fallen up in the mountains, but the ski hill is not open yet so it was quiet and we were alone for our walk.
it didn't take long for a whiskey jack to come and say hello, and i marvelled at his aerial acrobatics for a moment before he moved on. he landed gracefully in a tree high above me, and then plummeted in a dive straight down so that i thought he would head right into the snow. at the last moment he pulled up and alighted on this little tree in front of me, posing for his portrait. later on i heard a raven croaking across the meadow, and saw little birds flitting above us and the telltale "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" of those little ones.
it felt good to escape up into the world of white, even if winter hasn't made it's way to us at sea level just yet. down here it is damp and chilly, rain making regular appearances and piles of leaves rotting back into the ground. it's not our most scenic time of year. but up in the hills it's clean and pure with the snow. a rough trail had been stamped through on top of the regular boardwalk that was hidden underneath, but the meadows around us were mostly untouched.
i found myself concentrating a bit on the stark scenes that are created by the snow, focusing on the shapes and simple vignettes rather than the bigger view around us. the lakes were frozen over and some of the creeks, but moving water could be heard and seen here and there, sinewy black shapes moving through the winter wonderland.
i'm kind of hoping for a white winter around here. how do you feel about the snow?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
except he's not all that big. and not really so bad, just perhaps a bit mischievous; more of a "bad boy" than really bad. but he is a grey wolf, pausing for a moment between slipping soundlessly through the forest with his pack. wolves are one of the more elusive creatures to be found in the woods of the island and beyond. those who have seen one are lucky i think, and unfortunately i am not one of them. some day, i hope. for now i have this guy to look at, or at least as long as he lasts in the shop.
he is hand stitched from cotton fleece (reverse side out to make him extra soft) and corduroy. stuffed with locally sourced raw wool, and embellished with more of along his neck and face, along with merino wool yarn and embroidery thread.
hope you are having a quiet and contemplative remembrance day. we went to the ceremonies at the cenotaph this morning. dark clouds were racing across the sky, and the crowd was tucked against the steady rain and gusts of wind. there was a large group despite the weather, young and old. the weather seems to have cleared a bit now, and although i didn't make it out exploring today, i hope to venture out with camera in hand tomorrow. unexpectedly i have a four day weekend (tomorrow is not a holiday but the boss said to take it if i wanted), so i plan to get lots of outside and inside time. i've got several projects on the go which i hope to share with you soon.
Monday, November 08, 2010
yesterday was a quiet one at home. i spent most of the morning hunched over my work table (aka the dining table) working on a couple of projects. one of those was these socks, in a saturated yellow that reminds me of the maple leaves outside. this is the interlocking leaves pattern, free from knitty. i've been wanting to make it for awhile, but hadn't decided on a yarn. meanwhile, i've had this yarn from trish at indigo moon for awhile as well. so finally the two have met, and i'm thinking it's a perfect match. i'm already much farther along than shows in these photos.
while working away, i heard the raucus cackling of a stellar's jay outside, and i peered out to see this handsome fellow flitting around. they are lovely to look at, but i don't much enjoy the way they assert themselves so strongly over the little birds trying to get at the feeder. poor little juncos and chickadees dart off into the nearby trees to wait until he leaves. he does have me thinking about stitching a jay up in cloth though, a layered assortment of black and blue.
i'm also thinking about adding some 8x10 prints of some of my nature shots into my shop, some scenery of the wild west coast that i love so much. i'll keep you posted. hope you are easing into the new week - i personally am not looking forward to how it will be nearly dark when i leave work now. we also had our first frost this morning - winter's on its way!
Saturday, November 06, 2010
through the woods earlier, quiet and still. mushrooms are everywhere, big and small, clinging to every surface. i think the chanterelle season must be waning here though, or at least where i have been looking. i did find a medium cauliflower mushroom that i brought home, to be fried up with some butter later.
these coral mushrooms are some of my favourites. there are pale grey and yellow ones, but i like the bright orange the best. it really does look like someone has transported some coral from the sea up here in to the mossy woods.
the forest seemed more still than usual. no squirrels trilling away, and only the rare bird call. the background white noise was strong though, as the river was flowing full and quickly over the falls. a hairy woodpecker did swoop by to say hello though, pausing on a trunk just in front of me before flitting off, not giving me the chance to raise my camera.
A couple of new items in the Fog and Swell shop today. I stitched another rock similar to the acorn barnacle rocks, but this time made a sea star clinging firmly to it, surrounded by a few smaller barnacles. i like the size of this one, it feels good in the palm of my hand. It's available here, or you can still get hanging ochre star ornaments too. i've also been happily making mussels, enjoying building their layers of blue in linen, cotton and silk. there is a set of 3 available, which i like perched in a bowl for display. i think they might also make neat ornaments, so the option to have a hanging loop attached is available too.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
i made sure to get out on a walk today, knowing it could be the last clear evening before we change the clocks back and it's too dark to go out after work. i can't believe it's november and we haven't had a frost yet, although days like this are certainly crisp. i would almost think there would be a frost tonight, but clouds are supposed to move in before morning.
the sun seemed quite high in the sky as i was driving home, but once out walking it sunk quickly through the trees. i had to be fast with my camera to catch glimpses of light where i could.
this little creek was moving quickly down through the ravine, before joining the bigger river below it.
the river was fast flowing below my perch on the trail winding through the woods about a 100 feet above the water. i saw one fisherman in the water just off a bank where the river swings around a corner. lower on the river more fisherman are to be found, trying their luck with the late season salmon still trying to move upstream.
hope you are enjoying some fresh air too, whether you still have the bright colours of fall or if winter might be already setting in (or spring if you are down south!). the mountains here are boasting fresh coats of snow, and will only get whiter as the days continue. november already? the days move so quickly, especially when they are so short.