Sunday, September 30, 2012


turkish towel

playing with bull kelp

hitching a ride


sea lettuce

Last week i had the opportunity to go to a talk with 'the seaweed lady', Diane Bernard. Diane runs a company called SeaFlora, where she hand harvests seaweed along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, and uses it to make high end organic skincare products that are used in spas around the world. Normally she does talks at the beach, right in the thick of it, but low tide was at 6am and we had a bit shorter time for it too. I was disappointed, but oh well - learning about these plants was fascinating nonetheless. She brought a big pile of seaweeds that she had harvested earlier that morning and passed them out so we could touch and play. There is such variety along this coast, from the massive bull kelp, the fastest growing organism in the world, to thin clumps of sea lettuce. You can click on the images for a bit more info, although I can't remember the names of all of them. I need to get a good reference book. Most of them are edible, and they are full of minerals that can improve your health whether you eat them or put them directly on your skin.

I was inspired to try and add more seaweeds to my diet, and started this evening when I picked some sea lettuce on my walk. I added it to leftover spot prawns (thanks Mom!) tossed with some mushrooms and pasta. Yum.

We're in our new house, but there's lots of work to do yet. AK has gone out for his last guiding trip of the year (lucky him - back to where the humpbacks are still hanging out) so I'm tackling the boxes by myself so far. This house definitely has different dimensions from the old one, and furniture arrangement is going to take some creativity. But we'll make it work. Now if I could just find my stitching...

Friday, September 28, 2012

in a fog...

sun over morning fog


morning fog


Things have been a bit quiet around here, hey? My old house is a squall of boxes and random items strewn about, my new house slowly being stacked with items we have moved in the past week. The big final push is this evening and tomorrow, and by Saturday night I should be looking at the same mess but in reverse as I start setting up our new home. Fun...? But I didn't tell you the best part - at this time of year, our old place is well ensconced in shadow by four in the afternoon. Yet when I took a load over to the new place at 6:30 yesterday evening, there was still sunlight streaming through the kitchen window. Sweet.

I went out of town for a few days this week to attend a work conference on the south end of the island. It's not an area that I get to visit too often, and although we were mainly isolated to the hotel where the conference was held, at least it was on the water where we had a beautiful view to greet us each day. The view was a bit obscured at times, due to a rolling bank of fog moving in and out of the harbour from the open Pacific, but in some ways that made it all the more interesting.

Hope you're having a good week.


A few good things from around the interwebs:
>> These pumpkin poppers would be perfect for a tasty treat on a cool autumn morning.
>> So far I've resisted the friendship bracelet resurgence (although I made so many as a kid!), but these  large scale ones from the purl bee may have won me over.
>> I'm in love with this art piece from Valeriane Leblond.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

tweed n' cables...

tweed n' cables

tweed n' cables

tweed n' cables

Very suitable for fall, non? AK's actually been wearing this toque for a few weeks now, but this was my first chance to photograph it. He's been off guiding on the ocean and in the mountains, putting the hat through its paces. I'm happy to see it is holding up very well, and despite the extremely cushy, soft wool, does not seem to be pilling so far. Always a good thing.



There was some fun dyeing experiments this weekend - including some attempts at dip dyeing. Will share shortly. Also, thanks to those who snapped up the natural dye fabric packs in the shop. I didn't end up getting any more in there with all the packing and running around. I've decided actually that I'm going to close up the shop for the week. Between finishing packing, heading out of town for work a few days this week, and then the final move next weekend, I think it's probably my best bet to curb my stress level wherever I can. Thanks for understanding.

Now I think it's a good idea to get in a quick walk before the sun slips below the hills. Sunset is just shortly after seven these But at least the sun is out today - it will seem much darker once the grey days become a lot more common.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, September 21, 2012

fall friday...

forest prize

september forest

up from below


It's fall tomorrow. Fall. On the one hand this year is flying by; on the other, I love to be in the midst of this season. Autumn has been coming on very slowly around here - summer was so very late in arriving (really not until the second week of July), but the last two months have overflowed with sunny days. We could desperately use some rain, but I think it's coming in the next few days; here's hoping there might be a few more sunny ones before the grey of November arrives. Still, there are a few mushrooms that poke up without any rain at all.


Much of this weekend will be spent getting a head start on moving, with next weekend to finish things up. Yeah, that sounds fun.

I've started adding naturally dyed fabric packs to the shop. I hope they will be something you will enjoy using in your own stitching projects. If I get a break in the midst of packing, I will try and get a couple more in there. I just got some lovely buttery yellows from some mushroom dyeing. Each pack will be unique, as I dye in small quantities - and I like to keep some of it for myself too!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

[almost] wordless wednesday

one more

wait for me!

bow games



Because really, do you need words for this? Dolphins corner the market on pure joy, I think sometimes. They certainly know how to have fun. I admit to feeling frustrated by them (as well as porpoises) - they are often so fast and all over the place in the water that getting a photo seems impossible. But on occasion, they put on a show that leaves you breathless.

I hope these photos put a smile on your face like they do me. Happy Wednesday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

big bears and little bears...

no kidding

that colour

big and little

anybody see any fish?

where two streams meet

mama & the twins

huh, i still can't see any

There is a lot of wildlife on Vancouver Island, but grizzly bears are not among those beasts. Sure, there are occasional reports of a grizzly spotted on the north island, presumably after swimming from the mainland (in certain spots the small islands wind so close it is completely believable). But if you really want to see the big bears around here (although island black bears can get pretty big), one of the best ways is to take a boat to one of the inlets that cleave into the mainland BC coast. Yesterday I got to hitch a ride on a tour heading for the Orford River, where members of the Homalco Nation greet you and then transport you to viewing stands built along the river's banks. The Orford sits about a third of the way up Bute Inlet, a narrow and winding 75km long fjord where snow-capped peaks rise straight from the ocean floor. It is one of my favourite places, although I have only been to the very end of the inlet once. But that's another story - back to this one.

We spent several hours moving between viewing stands along the milky turquoise Orford that is thick with silt from the glaciers above. Around us towering trees heavy with moss closed in to the gravel bars. We watched a mama grizzly catch big salmon to share with her cub, and the rear view of a large boar ambling up river. Moving to another stand, we saw the same mom and cub from another angle, but then they moved into the bush for a nap. A deep blue September sky was offset by the blinding glare of the overhead sun that only seems to happen when the mountains rise steeply around you. It was amazingly quiet as our group murmured between each other and waited. The local guide took the visitors off for a short walk to the next stand to have a boo, but I stayed with my friend (and the boat driver) in case any bears popped out here. So quiet, aside for the gentle rush of the rivers. We talked in hush tones and squinted up at the peaks above.

Then a bit of movement - a little furry butt on a log across the river, disappearing back in to the branches. Then mama bear poked out from around the root ball and waded into the current, and then one, and then another fluffy cub followed her along the muddy bank. We radioed the rest of the group to come back, but for a few minutes we two were alone with this threesome as they scrambled along the bank to head up the river. Magical. Eventually we worked our way back to the mouth of the river, stopping at another stand to watch a male grizzly cross a large gravel bar. It can be a bit funny being on a guided tour like that, but our group was small and amiable. We had a late lunch on the dock, and then headed back out into civilization. A full afternoon indeed.

There were a few treats on the boat journey home though - I'll be back to share.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

out there...


little red roof

the nootka convention


nested in the blackberries

into the lagoon

I've been trying to write this post for a couple days now. I've been trying to write about our visit to the richly historical and beautiful Yuquot. About pushing myself well out of my comfort zone just to paddle there. And exploring along the coast of Nootka Island amongst more humpbacks and sea lions.

But it's just not working. I hope you'll enjoy the photos (and click through to flickr for a little more info).


I'm feeling even more off kilter than usual this week. Focus is not a big skill of mine right now. I feel like I say that a lot. If you think I never get anything done, you're not the only one. That Avett Brothers song keeps running through my head... "I haven't finished a thing since I started my life, I don't feel much like starting now / walking down lonely has worked like a charm, I'm the only one I have to let down." Wow, this post got depressing real quick, didn't it? Best I get back to packing, as no one wants to travel down the rabbit hole to see how deep my insecurities really go.

Monday, September 10, 2012


dyer's polypore?

the fern road

seed pod

along the river

peter cottontail

Today's walk confirmed it. Despite what the calendar says, autumn has arrived. A few good, albeit short, soakings of rain and the air has changed. There is a crisp wind coming down off the hills, rattling its way along the dry maples along the river's edge and swirling yellow leaves into eddies. The snails are revelling in the moisture of drenched moss and climbing out to the tips of the sword ferns. The mushrooms haven't had much of  chance to poke through, but a large velvety polypore waited for me alongside the trail. I believe it's a dyer's polypore, and the portion that I brought home is currently creating a yellow dye liquid.

The little cottontails flashed their white tails and hid in the thicket, and the peah of a flicker and the coarse mewwww of towhees noted my passage back to the truck. We are sure to have a few warm afternoons yet, but there's no denying it. In the fading light of a storm and sun day, fall is here.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

instagram sunday...

Freshly dyed

Wee sockeye

More plum pickin'

Chocolate chip quinoa cookies

Learning from the legend

Moss stitch in grey - yum

Last night the wind came through in big, shuddering gusts, and this morning the lawn was dotted with autumn confetti, the first array of many fallen leaves to come. Today woke up grey, with a steady breeze and rain this afternoon. Nootka trip aside, I haven't seen any significant rain in our valley for a couple months, so I was glad to see it come. We'll need a bit more if there is to be hope of any mushrooms soon. It felt like a good day to get some things done around the house, and the informality of my iPhone felt like a good way to capture it.

>>The results of these dye jars was revealed, rich dark purples. They look quite dark in the photo as the fabrics were all still wet - they are drying somewhat lighter.

>> A tiny sockeye salmon took shape in linen, a meal for a planned beast yet to come to life.

>> I got some more ripe plums off the tree, in the hopes of collecting enough to make wine again this year. I also picked a lot more blackberries this weekend for the same purpose. The freezers are getting awfully full - a visit with my mom yesterday just made that worse, as I came back home loaded with other veggies, apples, herbs, plus half a sockeye and some prawns.

>> The house smells delicious after making some chocolate chip quinoa cookies, a favourite of mine. I'm following those up with some large pattypan squashes stuffed with an autumnal mixture of quinoa, mushrooms, apples & walnuts. I hardly ever get ambitious with my dinners when AK is away, but at least I'll have something good to eat for a few days in a row now.

>> With my new interest in fly fishing, it felt appropriate to do a little reading by the master, who incidentally did much of his angling on the banks of my hometown river.

>> I'm making some progress on a simple moss stitch cowl in plush grey wool. but i have a little twist planned after the knitting is complete.

Wishing you a good end to the weekend, a smile for the week ahead.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

wild beauty...

the rowdies

rooster tails

scratching the itch

alone with my thoughts

big bull


orca with a view

A little Discovery Islands exploring on the holiday Monday. As always, you can click on the photos for more details.


I finally found some ripe blackberries (seems so many are late this year) and filled up my buckets this evening while the tide came in behind me and a pair of Pacific loons fished just off shore. Nothing like navigating back to the truck with precarious buckets along a shoreline that is quickly disappearing. Ella is working on 30 days of foraging, and while I don't know that I'll get there, September is definitely a good month for squirrelling away some goods for winter, especially those that can be foraged in the wild. Blackberries, plums, apples. Soon enough mushrooms, although those don't get preserved so much as devoured as soon as they come home. Do you do any foraging?


All sorts of fun things:
>> this different take on banana bread (with sesame seeds!) sounds really good.
>> did i mention i've been snagged by the fly fishing hook? Jillian and the girls have it figured out.
>> in love with the casual shape of Alabama Chanin's take on this Tracy Reese dress.
>> Adventure Journal's weekend cabin series is my new favourite place to escape.
>> the chilly nights are calling me into soup season. good thing I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to just soups!