Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I'm Still Here

:: When I first took this picture I thought this squirrel was eating a peanut. I later realized that no, it wasn't a peanut. It was a raspberry from my bushes in front of the porch. I guess it was tired of eating the seeds and new plants in my garden and decided to add in a new food group.




:: Garlic scapes might be my very favourite thing to harvest from the garden. (Thankfully the squirrels and birds don't seem to like garlic, so it's left for me to consume.) Between the community garden, and the crop in my own garden boxes, there's been an abundance of scapes. I use them in lots of ways. I throw them in with pea pods and steam them. I put them into omelettes. I make garlic scape pesto. I even roast them in the oven.




:: The community garden is next to the pond, which is home to a pair of swans. They are actually quite nasty birds, and have attacked several residents here. I choose my path carefully when I go down to the garden, making sure I don't get near them. They don't like to be outsmarted though, so often will come sit just outside the gate to the fenced in garden area after they see me enter, making it impossible to leave.




:: Great excitement this week, as my Book of Haps by Kate Davies has arrived. I haven't started knitting a  hap yet, but will be soon. It's going to be hard to decide which one to knit first!

:: Along with garlic scapes, this is also the season for thimbleberries. They grow in abundance in the surrounding forest, and every day I eat handfuls of them.




:: I've done a bit of sewing. This is my denim version of the Willow Tank & Dress. I think it will be great to wear this fall with leggings and a long-sleeved shirt. My original plan had been to distress the denim and do some Sashiko embroidery on it, but now I'm having second thoughts.




:: Last, but not least, there's been some knitting happening. I joined The Shawl Society. It was a rather odd thing to do since I rarely knit shawls, but I really enjoy the Curious Handmade forum on Ravelry, and Helen's Curious Handmade podcast, so I decided to give it a try. There will be one shawl pattern released every month for the next six months. I don't plan to knit every one of them, but I did join in for the first pattern, the Talisman Shawl.




:: Lucy has a birthday coming up next month, so I've been busy making her present. This is Egg to Owl, and once I got the head stabilized (it looked like an owl imitating Nearly Headless Nick until I got it fixed) I was quite pleased with it. I hope Lucy will be too.



:: The world seems to have gone a bit crazy lately. It seems fitting to borrow the closing line my blogging friend at Hostess of the Humble Bungalow uses in each of her posts. Be Well and Be Kind.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Out and About

I have to say I was overwhelmed and touched by your comments and support after my post about Fergus getting attacked by the German shepherd. So many of you have had similar experiences, or know of someone who has. In the end I did file a complaint about the dog, as so many of you had encouraged me to do. Now, on to more pleasant things!

A few weeks ago my brother came up for a quick visit. He's a walker too, so we always manage to get in a hike or two when he is here.


In spite of the fact he had just had shoulder surgery he decided he wanted to attempt to climb up Mt. Cheam with me. You can see Mt. Cheam peaking out in the top right of the picture above. The mountain is accessed by driving up a very rough forestry road. You have to have an off road vehicle to attempt it, which my brother does. We didn't make it to the top due to the amount of snow on the trail, but we did have a great time. I think the ride up that road was almost more of a workout than the hike itself!


Last weekend Rebekah, Ella and I went up to visit Alexandra in Kamloops for the weekend. We also spent time with our friends out in Sorrento, and while we were out walking in the forested area of their property we spotted some wildflowers. Tiger lilies always brighten up the path.


My favourites though are the lady's slippers. You can see how they got their name.


The evening light and the mountain background near our cottage combined to make one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen.


I liked how this snail was colour coordinated with the dead leaf next to it.


The salmonberries are ripe. There's a big patch of them I go by when I walk to the lake, so I've been snacking on them on a regular basis.


While walking last week I spotted this lichen. It was hard to miss, as it was practically glowing.


The devil's club is in abundance when I hike up Teapot Hill.


And, of course, there have been more teapots spotted on Teapot Hill. This time it looked like someone was having a tea party.


Balance in life is so important. I'm so very fortunate to live in a place where I'm surrounded by natural beauty. I was so stressed about what happened last week, and it was a gift to be able to walk out my door and be surrounded by nature. There's something very healing about the smell of the forest, the sound of the birds singing in the trees and bushes, the mix of colours and light, and the unexpected beauty of something as simple as a snail or a patch of lichen. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Discombobulated

Today's post was originally going to be about a couple of recent outings, with a bit of local flora and fauna thrown in for good measure. But early yesterday evening something happened that has left me feeling very upset and unsettled. Thus, that planned post will have to wait for another time to make it onto my blog.

Almost every evening now that the weather is nice and the days are longer I take Fergus for a walk at the small off leash area here at The Cottages. It's really more of a path that follows the dike above Frost Creek than the traditional wide open area you would associate with a dog park. Fergus loves going there, and so do I. While he runs around sniffing every blade of grass, wildflower and weed that grows along the side of the path, I enjoy the sound of the creek running nearby, take in the trees, the rock facing on the other side of the stream, and if I'm especially fortunate watch one of the resident bald eagles soaring overhead. 


Fergus at the off leash area, photo bombing my shot of this wild Columbine

When we were there yesterday a friend phoned. I sat down on one of the picnic tables to have a chat with her while Fergus meandered down to the gate, waiting to go back home. One minute everything was lovely, peaceful and calm. I was chatting and laughing with my friend and watching Fergus look at me with a "can you please hurry up" look on his face. Then in an instant it all changed. A huge German shepherd came charging through an open door in the fence at the edge of the off leash area and attacked Fergus. At this point all hell broke loose. The dog's person came running behind, making a feeble attempt to control her dog. I was yelling at her to get her dog on the leash. Fergus was cowering in a little ball under the Shepherd. (In hindsight I think Fergus's fearful nature is probably what save him from getting hurt. Had he attempted to fight the dog off I think it would have ended very differently.)

As the person approached her dog it started walking towards me. I was still yelling at her to get it on the leash. Then it turned, ran back at Fergus, and attacked him again. It wasn't until this second attack that she managed to leash her dog. I had assumed she was a camper from the nearby Thousand Trails site, and was appalled when she punched in the gate code for the Cottages and walked through. The whole thing was bad enough when I thought it was some random camper that I would never encounter again, but when I realized that dog resided in the same community as me everything changed.

This dog was vicious. It attacked my dog. The attack was totally unprovoked. Thankfully Fergus wasn't hurt, but he was terrorized. But the fact that he wasn't physically hurt doesn't change anything. That Shepherd's intent was to harm him. And what if I had had Lucy or Ella with me? It makes me sick to think of what could have happened. 

My dilemma now is I have no choice but to report this dog to our strata. If I didn't, and then found out that it had gone on to harm someones pet or child I would never be able to forgive myself. But we are a small community, and pretty much everyone knows everyone else. I hate to stir up trouble. I just want to live my quiet, peaceful life here, minding my own business and being a positive part of the community. I feel like that is no longer going to be possible. 


This was taken earlier yesterday, before the incident with the vicious dog. I thought it was funny how Fergus had seemed white until I cast on a project with this white yarn and compared the two.



Monday, May 16, 2016

Win Some, Lose Some

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about a failed project I had just finished knitting. The comments it generated were very interesting. They ranged from those of you who agreed with me and thought the sweater was not one of my better knits, to those who thought it looked great and encouraged me to keep and wear it. There were also several people who thought that while the sweater was fine, if I didn't like it I should go ahead and take it to the thrift store so someone else could buy it and enjoy wearing it.

I most likely will be taking it to the thrift store, as I just can't see myself bothering to wear it when I have so many other sweaters. I already have a few sweaters that are worn and pilled enough to qualify as part of my dog walking wardrobe. The difference between them and this latest one is I actually like the others, even though they are rather worn and tattered. They are the ones I'm going to grab when I go for a hike, sit by the campfire, or take Fergus for a walk.

There is a deeper issue I wanted to talk about after that post, and it is about risk taking. I'm not the kind of person that wants to take any kind of risk with money, my health, or any other Very Important life scenario. But when it comes to things that don't fall into those categories I am just the opposite. Knitting is one of those things. I don't mind having the occasional failure (although I was a little sore about having special ordered that zipper and spending all those hours sewing the blasted thing in). I think failure is part of the learning process. If I hadn't ever been willing to risk trying a new technique I would still be knitting dish cloths and nothing else.

I feel much the same about sewing. I started out as a complete rookie, and would now probably classify myself as an advanced rookie. I make tons of mistakes, and probably log more time with my seam ripper than I do my sewing machine. Which is why, when I ran across the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern back in early April, I should have simply bookmarked them for some point in the distant future when my seam ripper and I aren't so well acquainted. But hey, I'm a risk taker, and before I knew it I had ordered some lovely denim from Fancy Tiger Crafts, who also happened to be hosting a sewalong for the jeans.

I went into sewing the Ginger Jeans knowing there was almost no chance they would turn out. And I was okay with that. I figured I would learn from the experience, and even if I didn't have a pair of jeans at the end I would have picked up some valuable sewing skills. Maybe even enough new skills that a second attempt would turn out. But then the most surprising thing happened. They did turn out. There's a part of me that still can't believe it.


My shirt is the Wiksten Tank 


They were definitely a challenge.




They also took me a long time to make. A month from start to finish. But I was okay with that. Knitting has taught me to be patient and not expect instant results.




I never could have succeeded without the Internet. It was very helpful to look at blogs and tutorials from those who had already made these jeans.




One of the fun things was being able to personalize them. Instead of plain fabric to line the pockets and waistband I chose a bright floral design.




They aren't perfect. Far from it as a matter of fact. My topstitching around the waistband wasn't the greatest. And when I put in the rivets at the side I hammered so hard I rubbed the copper colour off the middle of the rivet. But in spite of their small imperfections they are the best fitting jeans I have ever owned. I know there will be many more sewing fails in my future, and that my next pair of jeans might not turn out as well as these did. And I'm okay with that. For me it is not just about the finished product. The journey to get there is every bit as important as the end result.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Are you a product or a process crafter? Do you like to take risks and try new techniques, or does that take the enjoyment out of the process for you?


Monday, May 9, 2016

Home Again

Before I get to the topic of today's post I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful comments on my last post about the failed sweater. There is much more that I would like to say about it, so will come back to it next time. Also, you might be wondering where I have been as I don't usually let so much time pass between posts. Several wonderful days have been spent in Victoria meeting my new grandson, and the rest of the time I have been immersed in a project. More on the project in the next post, and for now, on to Oliver.




There is something so incredibly special and delightful about a newborn baby - the tender skin, the soft hair, the way they snuggle in as you hold them, and perhaps most of all that realization that this is just a little sliver of time in their life. If you blink your eyes a few times they are suddenly toddlers, wanting to play doctor and have all their fingers covered in bandages.




Those little legs and arms grow bigger at an amazing rate.




And before you know it instead of being stretched out in a bassinet they are lying on the beach making a sand angel.




Newborns have a special way of tugging at your heart.




But then again, so do toddlers.



Have a great week!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

An UGH!

For those of you who aren't on Ravelry let me explain what an UGH is. When you post a project on Ravelry you can rate it. The lowest happiness rating is called an UGH. These projects are ones that didn't live up to their knitter's expectations in a major way. Some of them are hilarious. Socks that two feet could fit into, a onesie knit for a boyfriend that didn't quite work out, a mismatch of yarn and project, a pattern that was riddled with errors, for these reasons and many more a project can end up with this label.

Now I need to go back in time, about eight years if my memory is correct. I started knitting a sweater called Ribby Cardi. Looking back I'm not sure exactly why I started knitting this sweater. It has all the elements of a sweater that usually have me running for the hills trying to get far, far away from it. It is knit in five separate pieces, meaning there are five pieces to sew together. In this case they aren't just sleeves, they are raglan sleeves meaning there is a lot more seaming required than usual. Plus, and here is the real deal killer, this sweater has a zipper that needs to be sewn in. I despise sewing in zippers. Not only did I start knitting a sweater that had finishing details that would make a trip to the dentist for a root canal look like a more pleasant way to spend one's time, I had purchased cheap yarn to knit it with.

All of this meant that after knitting both fronts, the back and one sleeve I stuffed it in a bag and shoved it to the very back of a closet. Because if I finished that second sleeve I would then be faced with all of that finishing work I so despise. Fast forward to this spring. I was listening to a Knit British podcast and Louise made the wise suggestion to go through your stash and look at your unfinished projects. Then make a decision. Either rip it out or finish it. Those of you who aren't knitters might think this would be obvious, but to those of us who are knitters, well, I guess you could say we live in a state of unwarranted optimism as far as our projects go.

So I started thinking about that sad, neglected Ribby Cardi crumpled in a heap at the back of my craft closet. I eventually pulled it out and gave it some long, hard thought. In the end I decided to finish it. After all, it was almost done. Well, at least the knitting portion. And I did like the look of the sweater. And I don't own a single cardigan. Like so many other dreaded tasks, finishing the second sleeve wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. In a few short nights it was complete and I was feeling pretty good about my knitterly self.

Those feelings did not last. I will spare you the trials and tribulations of trying to find a matching two-way zipper, which resulted in an order to an online zipper store. And I won't bore you with the details of installing that zipper. After all, there's not much of interest that can be said about FIVE hours of my life spent inserting the stupid thing. Which, I should add, looks like a five year old did it. Nor will I go on about sewing in raglan sleeves. I will leave it at this. Never. Again.

Of course, it all would have been worth it had I been left with something that was wearable.




 It doesn't look bad from the side.




It's passable from the back.




But from the front, all I have to say is UGH. I have a category of my wardrobe, much larger than it probably should be, that I think of as my dog walking clothes. This doesn't even qualify for that. It's going directly to the thrift shop, and I will just have to accept the fact all those hours of seaming and putting in that blasted zipper are hours of my life I will never get back.

Happily, there have also been some non-UGH things this past week. Alexandra and Josh came down for a visit.




And Rebekah and Ella were out his week for a few days while Anton was in San Francisco for work.




Some goslings have hatched down at the pond.




And now I am heading to Victoria to meet my new grandson Oliver, and to see my sweet Lucy. I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hello Oliver!


Oliver Changyi Hammond was born Monday morning, and we are all so excited! Both Diana and the baby are doing well, and were able to go home from the hospital Tuesday.



Diana had the great idea of getting a baby doll for Lucy as a gift from her new brother Oliver.


As much as she loves the baby doll I think she is even more taken with the real thing!



I especially love this picture. The red blanket was Diana's when she was a baby. They used it when Lucy came home from the hospital, and now it is being used for Oliver. I don't think Diana has many keepsakes from her childhood in China, which makes it that much more special.



Lucy is right there, wanting to help out at every opportunity.




They've already gone for an outing to the beach. I can't believe how great Diana looks just a few days after giving birth. I plan to go meet Oliver next week, and, as you might guess, I can hardly wait!