Monday, August 29, 2011

Exhale and Then....

Here is my box of squares ready to go. A guesstimated 20 pounds of crochet and knitting. I actually had to leave out about 18 squares because the box was too small. It isn't worth creating a second box because, according to the Canada Post website, a box weighing six pounds costs the same to ship as one weighing 20. Go figure. The extra squares (and those skeins of yarn) will enjoy the ferry ride and a delightful trip across two provinces and four states to NYC before taking an airplane to Korea. They will be world travelers but they don't seem at all impressed.

For now, however, I have to return the remaining inherited yarn to Barb, who will share it with her students this year (she teaches all her students to knit, bless her heart). May they use it well.

Each item gets ticked off the list of things to do before we leave, once again, for the mainland. This year I truly have no idea how things will be when we return next year. I have truly no idea when we will return, for that matter. There is a broad openness ahead.

As someone recently said to me, every moment, every breath is a new beginning. So, let's begin!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

That Kind of Day

New Yorkers braced for Hurricane Irene, but in mellow, sultry Newfoundland things were different.

Maybe they should call this place The Big Easy but I heard that it was taken.

Fresh air and sunshine, that's what we're all about.

Viewing the beauty of the day from the front porch, I made a new design for crochet, screwed it up massively and had to rip out my second day's work.

To my dear crochet loving friends,

I may have to do something far less impressive on the crochet side, not out of disrespect for your fine craft but because the truth may have to be told: I suck at crochet.



Saturday, August 27, 2011


When the organizers of the Biennale put up the page about The Avenue of Trees project, I was amused and only slightly alarmed to notice that they had upped the number of squares from 1500 to 2000. Such an easy thing to type, isn't it?

The piles are getting higher, but I am not so sure I could nonchalantly add 500 squares to the projected total at this point. These squares are soon to be boxed up and send off with fingers crossed for swift efficiency from Canada Post. Did I hear a derisive snort and see some eye rolling? Now, now, have a positive attitude. I am sure Canada Post won't let me down. And if I just keep saying that...

Here is all of my progress from yesterday on the Stitch 'n Pitch project. Yup, all wound back onto the skein - an entire day's work. Today's a new day, dawning bright. And if I just keep saying that...

Speaking of doing the impossible, here is a photograph of some telephone wires. It also is a photograph of a boat pulling a shed down the bay from McIvers to Meadows. Apparently it took six hours to get the shed about ten kilometers. But they did it! So, if a couple of guys with a boat can move a shed across a large body of water, I can crochet a three-colour Mets logo and whip up 500 extra squares.

A positive attitude, I tell you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shall We Check Out A New Blog?

Here is where I sit making granny squares while Lucy practices her crawl and breaststroke.

I am thrilled to be able to link to a blog for the Avenue of Trees project. Check it out. The project is titled "Shall We Art" in Korean, so don't be alarmed.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keeping the Options Open

Lucy and her friend, Jamie, hosted Knit Night at our house last night. They each baked up something delicious: Lucy made the world's best chocolate cake and Jamie made something called Butterscotch Tea Buns, which are essentially cinnamon buns - really good cinnamon buns. Then, together, they made chocolate fudge. They were going to make chocolate chip cookies too but decided to go swimming instead. Wise choice, girls!

After a quick supper, they cleaned up the kitchen and set out their delicacies.

I even broke out my super fabulous pink crocheted table cloth, purchased for a pittance in Bonavista a fews back. That time, I did lecture that young woman behind the counter about underselling handwork. Heaven help me, I am such a bore! In any case, the pink crocheted table cloth is only used on the most special of special occasions, and this was clearly that.

Once their table was set and the knitters began to arrive, the girls decided their hosting duties were over and went off to swim again. It strikes me that, once again, their wisdom goes beyond their years. I was deputized "co-host" and left to fulfill my duties solo.

In life, as in all things, ice cream is optional.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Accomplishment 'n Progress

Well, this feels like an accomplishment but of what kind, I can't really say.

There was a dark moment when I realized, two-hours of knitting in, that I had been knitting the pattern backwards. This would be perfect as long as the Stitch 'n Pitch goodie bags include mirrors! Alas, not the case, I had to tear it out, do an hour of yoga, have a cup of tea, eat a biscuit, read a chapter of book, and then start again.

This was, by far, the trickiest part so now I can just have fun with stripes 'n stuff (in the spirit of the event, I am trying to include lots of 'n kind of phrases). I need to make a seat cover in crochet as well but I am not sure my skills are up to doing this pattern in crochet. Is it even possible to do this kind of colour work with crochet?

Maybe just some giant granny squares in Mets colours? I'm serious!

Check out those monster floats! When designing for inanimate objects, it is possible to throw technique to the wind...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Do Not Stand Between A Woman and Her Dream

A glorious day yesterday. Sunny, very windy, not too warm, not too cold. We headed to Gros Morne with some friends who also homeschool (a rare thing in these parts so we delight in the very fact that we even know each other).

The kids had a great time picnicking and playing on the beach. The mom, Jennifer, has four. I am down to one.

This wicked cool shelter was discovered on the beach and was the source of hours of fun.

As moms are want to do, we sat on the sidelines and chatted, doling out snacks and soothing the inevitable boo-boo's that come from the combination of kids and rocks. But it wasn't all apple slices and tips on reading, writing and arithmetic. Jennifer is a woman of vision. As such, when said vision appears, she can not be stopped.

She recently took up spinning and, discovering a natural talent for it, she has enthusiastically embraced it. She also is an accomplished competitive athlete and outdoors person. Her vision involved hiking to a scenic spot and spinning, surrounded by beautiful landscape.

We told her that the name for that was "spindle" but her vision did not involve a spindle.

Please, do not stand in the way of a woman and her dream for you will find it a useless waste of energy.

A vision realized.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Have A Winnah!

Over at the ravelry group for The Avenue of Trees project, I ran a contest for everyone who is making squares - a teeny, tiny attempt to say thank you for such generosity of time, energy and talent (not to mention, yarn).

For every photograph of a square posted to the group, I put the maker's name in a basket.

Some people had one name entered. One person had 21!

And the winner is....Gillian!

Congratulations Gillian! She wins a skein of Wee Ball Yarns handspun in the colour of her choice, to be spun in October.

Truly, the biggest winner is me. I am deeply grateful for the way that people have taken up my request for help. Gillian is the person who has made 21 squares - almost as many as I have made. Additionally, she has organized a table at the Art Marathon at the Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John's this weekend. She will be there, crocheting squares and recruiting others to do the same. If you are in St. John's, why not wander over and say hello to Gillian, congratulate her on her win, and then pick up a hook and some yarn and make a square!

PS. There is another contest for another skein of WBY beginning today and ending at midnight on August 29th. Join us, post your pictures and win, win, win!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lucy is Awesome

Yesterday, Lucy woke up and said, "I think we should spin today." As it was rainy and cold and as I am not one to deny my children anything reasonable, especially when that reasonable thing is to spin on a rainy day, I said yes.

I finished the square I was working on (but of course) and moved on to my Wee Gem, where I had the half-finished remains of my first ever handpainted fleece on the bobbin. Remember it?

As I began to spin, I started to wonder if I had made the newbie mistake of wanting it all. While we were dyeing, every colour was so lovely and rich that I wanted to put all of them on my fleece. Now, I feared that the result would be a kind of muddy rainbow look, which isn't really a look I am interested in achieving.

After making a thin single, I chain plied and the results are not so bad.

I did go back to the squares, btw. Even in the ecstasy of spinning, I didn't lose sight of The Goal.

But what of dear Lucy? She had her own Goal.

She decided to make some felted shoelaces a la Pluckyfuff's book, Intertwined. And so she did. She carded the colours she wanted, spun them up, and felted the yarn. Here she is pulling apart the felted yarn, which tends to felt to itself in the process.

The sun even came out so the yarn dried quickly and, voila, super cute felted shoelaces.

Lucy is awesome.

To celebrate daughters who wake up and want to spin, here are some happy flowers in sunlight.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Trip to Bountiful

Leaving the cold, wet city of St. John's, I made my way back to the slightly more sunshine-y and warm west coast. I brought with me a nice haul, if I do say so myself.

Here is the inventory at present. What is the total count. I don't know. I am not like that. Over at the ravelry group (which you should join pronto), one person started a running tally of squares. For me, I like the vague optimism of not knowing. It looks like a nice big pile, right?

While in St. John's, I realized that I had underpacked for the weather. I was cold! So I ventured out to Value Village (a chain of second hand stores in Canada) to see if I could find either a rain jacket or heavy sweater. No luck on the clothing front, but I did find two bags of yarn scaps. Here is one.

Here is the second. How could I resist? All this potential granny square magic for under $10.

Speaking of granny square magic, I also found a bag of half-started granny squares. I almost whooped for joy right there in Value Village. Before you say, "But they aren't one colour!" let me assure you that I did notice that fact. But c'mon - a big bag of granny squares for $3? Would you leave it behind? I didn't think so. I will just ignore those center colours and work outward in a single colour.

Flexibility, people. It is all about the flexibility.

Yet, here is one place where I am completely inflexible. I think this colourway is called "Yarn Manufacturer's Delusion". Who, in the name of all that is good and pure about yarn, would think that this is an acceptable colour scheme? No. Not even for so-called Christmas items. Not allowed. Ever.

For all that I love, nay, worship at the feet of yarn, even at times, acrylic yarn...for all of that, I took this yarn and threw it away. And you know what? I believe the world is better for it.

PS. I did find an amazing Dale of Norway-esque, 100% wool with pewter clasps sweater for $5 at the Salvation Army shop down the road. Toasty warm too - just right for August in St. John's.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Squares With Benefits

Yesterday I collected over 25 squares.

Two contributers, Paula and Gillian, who have embraced this project in a way that boggles my mind and warms my heart. Here is Gillian looking clear and Paula looking blurry.

And now the reverse.

There was wild talk about sending another package of squares via the daily bus that runs from St. John's to Corner Brook. They can't be stopped! Apparently stash-busting granny squares are just the ticket as they make room for new yarn purchases.

See? This project is actually a great benefit to participants.

Ok St. John' may be freaking freezing in the middle of August, and the sun may not have been seen since February, and I still might not have forgiven you for not shoveling your sidewalks like good citizens, but I do loves ya.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Be There or Be A Square

We are headed to St. John's today. We will make the 8 hour journey across the island for several reasons.

The first is that I am teaching a drop spindle workshop at A Good Yarn tomorrow evening. Rumour has it that it is nearly full, so check in with Jenny if you are interested in attending.

The second is that Finn will be leaving us - heading back to NYC. How you gonna keep'em down on the farm when they have seen Sunnyside? Apparently, you can't, so we are taking advantage of the amazing fact that there is a direct flight from St. John's to Newark every single day of the week. Why isn't the island overrun with pale people wearing black and complaining? I really don't know. It remains a mystery to me.

The third is that I will be collecting a massive amount of squares that have been knit and crocheted by the wonderful knitters and crocheters of St. John's. Wednesday night is Knit Night at The there or be a SQUARE!!!

Here are some recent pictures to send you or me off with - pictures that include sunlight, which St. John's has had even less of than us here on the west coast.

Foggy cool drizzle - here we come!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Day of Rest

Because you can not live by granny squares alone...

(But I did finish a square while we were waiting for the fleece to steam set the dye.)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Romance and Reality

Gros Morne is a national park that is about 1.5 hours drive from our house. It also is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique geology. It is truly a stunning place and it is an amazing thing to live so close to it. It also has several towns in it or next to it, including Woody Point, where Molly White runs her shop Molly Made, which was our destination yesterday.

Did all that stunning natural beauty stop Finn and Lucy from fighting and complaining the whole way up, the entire time we were there, and the whole way back?


Although I wasn't much in the mood to fulfill promises after their shocking display of teenaged behavior, I did stop to pick up some strawberries at a roadside stand on the way home. Sounds romantic, right?

Local farmer sells delicious produce directly to the person who will consume it. It is what everyone is striving for these days, or so it seems. But this isn't Jamie Oliver in Sicily. This is Route 430 between Deer Lake and Wiltondale. This is a farmer with a pack a day habit, a farm stand that smells like it and a voice that sounds like it. This isn't romance. This is just getting by.

Fortunately, the cigarette smell did wash off the berries. They are lovely, aren't they.

My second promise was that we could stop at a craft store in Deer Lake where we have found some treasures in the past. Once we found a little hand turned bowl with a lid that we use as a salt cellar. On the bottom of the bowl, there was a tag put there by the maker whose name is G. Gordon. Forever after, we call our salt cellar G. Gordon Liddy.


But Mr. Liddy or Gordon has never produced another perfect salt cellar like that one. We have looked. Yesterday, however, other treasures awaited us.

This is a child's toy.

His companion. A little sunnier, don't you think?

When I saw them, I pounced. The shop was empty save for the two teenaged girls at the counter who were wearing what looked like prom dresses for reasons that could not be explained. Competition for the goods was not stiff so I probably didn't need to pounce. Anyhoo, before I looked at the price tag, I tried to imagine what my upper price limit would was a tough call. At first glance, I thought the tag said $35. A bit steep for my budget but....clearly these were works of great integrity. A battle raged in my head for a moment as I tried to justify the price, "just one!'s handmade....think of the time....who made this?? must have it!..." and on and on in a split second while I blinked and held the tag just a wee bit further away to get a better look at it (it goes like that these days).

Not $35. $3.50

Three fifty!!! Each.

At once wonderful and horrible. Wonderful: these two gentlemen (or whatever they are) were coming home with me. Horrible: how in the world could they charge so little? Someone was being taken advantage of here.

I thought about lecturing the two teenaged girls in the prom dresses about how handwork has value and should be priced accordingly and how it brings everyone down when things are sold for well under their worth. They were already looking at me as if I was totally insane and like they couldn't wait for me to leave so they could update their facebook status: "OMG!!! Crazy tourist lady just bought ugliest items! ROFL! LMAO!".

No. No lecture. I just paid my seven dollars + HST and we headed back for the car, clutching our little men or bears or whatever they are. Despite the complaining, despite the cigarette-smelling strawberries, despite the teenaged girls in prom dresses, all seemed right with the world.

Friday, August 05, 2011


Stretching my photoshop skills to their limits, I created this image as a kind of simulation of what it might sort of look like if Cheongju were in Newfoundland and the sycamore trees were poplars.

Other than that, it is spot on.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

North, to the Future

The fireweed is blooming.

For some it might mean the beginning of the end of summer. For others, it is another way to get a yellow dye. Perhaps others see it as a beautiful pink blanket across the hillsides.

For me, however, when I see fireweed, I can only think of this:

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What is Time? I Haven't Got Time to Tell You.

The danged clock and calendar seem to be working in tandem against me. They keep racing forward and I keep begging them to please slow down.

No dice.

It always was a losing battle but I now officially admit defeat. Hey Time - you win! I give up! Battle over. I will simply proceed forward: laundry will be done, meals will be prepared, the garden will be tended, children will be listened to, and yes, squares will be made. The squares will be made at rate that seems pathetically slow but, I have discovered, it is my rate.

Here is my wee stack of squares. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to make more than two per day, tops. I will not be the first to say that 20 inches/50 cm is a sight bigger than it first seems.

All this would feel rather despairing except for the fact that I know I am in great company. The ravelry group now has sixty members and I have been contacted by a good number of people via email. The Korean end of things is just heating up now so I am hopeful that once the Biennale begins to promote the project, then it will generate a lot of local interest.

A couple of other thoughts....

Thought #1. As I have considered the very real possibility of not making my goal (1500) squares, I have been re-arranging things in my head. Of course all of this is without ever having been on-site, so it might all need to change once I actually see it in person. But think about this: you are driving along this lovely avenue and notice the colours on the trees. How surprising! How lovely! And it goes on...for a kilometer. Fantastic! Now two kilometers. Great, but I gotta drive here....and you see that perhaps 5 km might turn the project from impressive to boring or, at least, no longer noticed. Call it rationalizing, but I think 5 km might be too long for most people's attention span. Just a thought.

Thought #2. I have started a contest on the ravelry group. Anyone who posts a picture of their square is eligible to win a skein of Wee Ball Yarn art yarn in a colour of their choice. If you post two squares, you are entered twice. Three squares, three chances, and so on. I will have one contest from now until August 15th and another one from the 16th to the 30th. So join up and post some pictures! Delicious yarn hangs in the balance.

Thought #2a. The organizers may be offering to make a donation to the Korean flood relief efforts in the name of each participant. When I have more details, I will share them. If you have been on the fence about participating, perhaps this is the nudge you needed. It isn't just for art but for a more easily understood greater good. If you needed one, here is another incentive to make squares...your work will be doing double duty.

Now let us all get off the computer and start using time wisely!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Cheongju - Now on Ravelry!

One of the generous people making squares for The Avenue of Trees sent me a note nudging me to create a group on Ravelry about the project (if by nudge, you mean she told me exactly what to do and how to do it). It was a great idea!

Here is a link to the group (you must be a member of Ravelry to get there).

Example of how I used varying shades of one colour within one square.

Please join us - you don't have to make squares to be part of the group or the fun. It was exciting to see so many people accept my invitation to join and how people are just finding it on their own. Within a few hours, there were already almost 40 members! People have started posting photos of their squares and telling stories about the yarn they are choosing and their connection to Korea or art or whatever.

It all reminds me why I love this kind of project. Sure, the piece stands to be impressive for all sorts of reasons but what I love most is how this process of making brings out stories and helps to remind us that we are all in this together. I am very interested to see how this experience plays out in Korea, where we are just starting the process of getting the word out about the project.

I plan to host a couple of contests for participants with the super-duper prize of a skein of Wee Ball Yarns. Said yarn will need to be made after the project ends, however.

Here is some variegated yarn that still gives an overall sense of being pink.
Now can you see how a certain despair began to set in?

So, post some pix! Win some yarn! Let's do this thing!