Friday, September 25, 2009

Saori Weaving

I may be way behind the pack on this one, but I recently came across a very intriguing book about Saori, a Japanese (of course) approach to weaving that is very organic and improvisational. The above image "Waterfall" is a piece by Terri Bibby of Saltspring Weaving. (The photo is hers as well.) She has a great website and blog with oodles of information and images of this weaving style.

She offers a great series of workshops from her studio on Saltspring Island. The philosophy of saori is one of non-judgement, self-discovery and accessibility, which results in wonderful freeform, spontaneous weaving. Here are "The SAORI Slogans":

1. Consider the differences between machines and people.
2. Let's adventure beyond our imagination.
3. Let's look out through eyes that shine.
4. Let's learn from everyone in the group.

Check out the earth loom on the blog. I can't wait to run out and make one myself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And the Winner Is...

The lovely Joanna from Poland is the winner of the birthday gift. But because all the responses were so sweet and I met a couple of new bloggers, I would like to send party favours to all of you. If you would like to receive a pretty little handmade giftie, send me your mailing address at truestitches {at} yahoo {dot} ca. And Joanna, too, please send me your address. The postmaster at our little PO will be so happy to see packages going from Lasqueti to far off destinations.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cream of the West Update

Through the long summer of gardening I have been grabbing spare moments to work on this piece. Remember the faded flour sack I found and chose to embroider over? Here. And here. I have been pretty faithful to the printed design, but some of the colours, especially the red, had all but disappeared.

In the space below the "MAPLE LEAF", I could tell there had been some printing but really couldn't figure it out, so I decided to make a bit of a statement and inserted "Non GMO". This amuses me because at the time the flour sack was made, there certainly wouldn't have been any GMO foods - a more innocent age. Now, a bill to make labeling of GMO foods mandatory in Canada failed to pass, in large part due to the lobbying efforts of Monsanto and other producers of GMO seed.

Obviously, I'm still not done yet. I tend to work here and there on a piece, rather than upward from the bottom. It will be a challenge to figure out the Maple Leaf Mills logo in the middle, and some fun awaits me with the wheat stems. The massive red oval at the top will no doubt get a bit tedious but sometimes that's what's needed. Fortunately I have a couple of long ferry rides ahead of me in the next couple of weeks, should be able to get lots of sewing done!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Birthday Gift

Today is my birthday, and since I have been so abundantly blessed by life on this little island, I decided to offer a little gift for a reader of this blog. (I think the odds of winning might be pretty good on this one.)

The gift is a nice stack of Japanese wools, silk and cotton in autumnal colours, plus a skein of persimmon dyed thread, also Japanese. Just leave a comment and the winner will be randomly selected on the fall equinox, September 22.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Harvest 2009: Top Crops

Crop with a Mission: Parsnips. Giant parsnips with the sweetest creamy taste imaginable. Parsnips that converted me into a true believer of the humble root.

Crop That Never Quit: Tomatillos. Grown from seed from the New Mexican town of Truth or Consequences, these sprawling vines grew undaunted through wind, rain , drought and cold nights. Each plant must have yielded 15 pounds of tangy sweet fruit.

Crop That Dropped in and Stayed for the Summer: Roma tomatoes. The six plants that came up volunteer ended up yielding a wheelbarrow full of fruit after a summer of TOTAL neglect. I didn’t water them, weed them, prune them or stake them. They can come back any time.

Crop That Made Me Weak in the Knees: Black Krim Tomatoes. The juiciest, most flavourful taste sensation in the garden. The erotic highlight of the summer was spent in the greenhouse, suffused with the heat of the afternoon sun, the smoky purple flesh filling my mouth with wave after wave of sensory delight.

Crop That Defied Conventional Wisdom: Kutenai Tomatoes. 10 year old seed germinated like it was last summer’s. And went on to produce rich meaty fruits that weighted almost a pound each.

Crop That Failed to Live Up to Its Early Promise: Spinach. Young , tender and succulent, it quickly bolted into tough, sour old age. Maybe next year…

Crop That Laughed in the Face of Death: Broccoli: The seedlings were attacked by cabbage root maggots, but many still managed to hold on and develop strong stems with abundant heads.

Crop That Never Made It Onto the Plate: Sugar Snap Peas. Fat green pods that went straight from the vine to the mouth in seconds flat. Also Winner of the Miss Congeniality Award.

Crop With a Riddle: What is not a crop but has a crop? A chicken, of course! Six Cuckoo Maran chicks came to stay, and although they have yet to lay, have won my heart with their charming ways (and oodles of poop.)

Crop That Made Me Cry: Zucchini. I thought I had picked every last one and when I checked the next day there was a huge two footer lurking under a leaf. Any fantasies I had about having the garden under control vanished at that point and I burst into tears.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Crazy Parsnip Woman

If I look a little maniacal, it's because I just dug up the first parsnip from the garden and it's frighteningly large.

I don't even really like parsnips. And I have a 10 foot row of them.

Guess what I'm bringing to the fall fair?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

And in Other News on the Homestead...

It was a day of abundance on Spring Bay Road, as Heather got up early and and joined a slew of Lasquetians down at the dock. The reason for this uncharacteristic perkiness in the morning? A dozen pink salmon, with her name on them. Fresh caught, $5.00 each. A local fisherman was donating his catch to the Last Resort Society as a fundraiser - it only took 15 minutes for all 300 salmon to be spoken for and packed away in coolers, plastic totes and grocery bags. It was quite the parade up and down the steep hill to the dock. (Pictures at 11)

What does one do with 50 pounds of fresh, almost flipping fish? A friend down the road is smoking a couple for us, and the rest are in the freezer. I had to clean them myself, which is why there are no pictures - (the yuck factor, you know.)

I now expect to be deluged with requests to visit from friends who suddenly have an open weekend in their fall schedules. Salmon in the freezer and work in the garden almost done, a fire in the woodstove... . sounds good.

***Chicken Update***

The chickens are all present and accounted for. They even look like real chickens now, with tail feathers and everything. They are 10 weeks old, big enough to explore outside the pen, with adult supervision, of course.

I think we may have a rooster here. We have to decide whether to keep him or trade him in on an older hen. He seems to be pretty good at his job so far, even flapping his wings at a visiting dog. (Note the red comb and wattles: chicken keepers, what do you think?)

This one's a hen for sure - pretty baby, eh?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Little More St. John's

Like many places that have lived subject to the unpredictable force of weather, waves and government, Newfoundland has a rich tradition of art and music. I visited the Craft Council Gallery and took a few pictures before being told I couldn't. I'm sharing them with you here because I thought they were wonderful, but as always, copyright remains with the original artist. The above hooked mat is by Joan Foster.

The gallery is situated in a heritage building on the harbour, which can be seen through the window. This particular show was in honour of the village of Cupids, celebrating its 400th anniversary. I really loved Susan Furneaux's piece on the left wall.

She works in thread, cloth and collage and created this piece in honour of the Newfoundland women who worked so hard for so little. "See gentle patience smile on pain."

This tapestry by Rachel Ryan is called "Beacon".

I loved this "Garden Goddess", a whimsical sculpture by Janet Peter.

A jeweller who usually works in precious metal chainmail, Jason Holley, changed scale to a massive proportion for his exhibition, "Breaking Point". He says his work is about human connections. "Communities, relationships, families are so important and always breaking down and repairing somewhat."
For a lovely browse check out the Craft Council's website

And here is the lovely room in the B&B where I stayed. The one day it rained I stayed in and worked on my own stitching. It felt absolutely luxurious.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Walk Through St. John's: Skyline

St. John's, Newfoundland is somewhere I had always wanted to visit. It is a delightful small city perched on the far eastern edge of North America, and very easy to stroll around. The huge Rooms, a museum/gallery/archive complex, somehow manage a whimsical, toy-like look even as they dominate the distinctive woodframe houses.

The city is more than 200 years old and boasts a lot of wonderful architecture.

Many of the heritage houses of the inner city have been restored and painted bright colours.

The houses on Battery Road hug the rock.

My favourite door.

I passed this gate on my way up Signal Hill, the massive outcropping that shelters the Harbour.

Rowanberries are ripening and provide a striking contrast to the Cambrian rock.

Once one reaches the top of Signal Hill, there is a steep descent down to the edge of the Atlantic.

My feet, and Ireland off in the (very far) distance.

The famous Cabot Tower, where Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless signal.

A Walk Through St. John's: Harbour

I had to see a lighthouse on this trip! When I was a kid I wanted to be a lighthouse keeper, which tells you a lot about me. This one, guarding the entrance to the harbour, looks pretty idyllic in the sun.

Looking back toward the town from Battery Road.

Coming in to port.

It was a Kodachrome moment, looking toward Signal Hill and the Narrows.

A Walk Through St. John's: Cats

As I walked along Battery Road there was a clutch of cats taking the morning air. This one colour co-ordinates with his house.

This one seems to be worried about the collapse of the cod fishery.

And this one isn't sure she approves of her human's decorating style.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Before I share a glimpse of the charming city of St. John's, Newfoundland, please indulge me in a tragic tale of airport security measures.

Yes, it was my favourite pair of embroidery scissors that did me in. I foolishly thought that by now, the commandants of airport security would realize that middle aged ladies who embroider are probably the most unthreatening of travellers. After all, we carry the tools for peace in our handbags, and are unlikely to succumb to air rage as long as we have needle and thread close by.

But, as I say, I'm foolish.

These scissors had often travelled with me. Even though I had bought them at Michael's, they possessed a certain personality - confident and serene in their sharpness, reliable in the hand. They played an integral role in many an embroidery.

On this trip, they made it through security at Vancouver without fuss. (I guess this means that all those terrorists coming to the Olympics can bring their fingernail clippers without worry.) But in St. John's, the young security agent said the scissors were forbidden. She would have to dispose of them, or I could go back and check my small carry-on through the ticket desk.

The folly of my smug desire to travel light and avoid interminable waits at luggage carousels became sadly clear. I made a quick decision to give up my scissors, and then surprised the agent (and myself) by bursting into tears. "They have been with me for so long," I cried. "You can't just throw them away."

She looked at me with renewed interest, as if I might fling open my hoodie to reveal sticks of dynamite taped to my chest. I composed myself somewhat, and went off for a good cry in the women's washroom.

It wasn't just the loss of the scissors that upset me. It was that they were being thrown away, not going to a thrift store or a senior's home or a deserving crafty staff person. There are many things I resent the perpetrators of September 11 for - the loss of privacy, the attitude of paranoia and suspicion that pervades normal daily life, the increased cost to the public, and the tightening of borders. I now add to that list the criminalization of the stitching traveller.

Just take me to the taser zone now...

(Startare posted an excellent thoughful comment on this post, which was meant to be amusing. Please check out her comment and my reply, and goodness knows, I don't want to start any controversy.)