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...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Song for Friday...renaissance

Did you know that vinyl is back?
Yes, LP's are all the rage again and I just saw that
for a mear $42.99 you can buy your own copy
of "Beggars Banquet" by The Rolling Stones!
Yup, $43 for a record.
I think in 1968 it was about $5.
I'll just let you mull that one over and leave you
with a favorite cut from that album...
Have a great weekend all!

The Season...

We'll be going back east in a week to Toronto for Christmas to be with my
daughter and her fiancee in their new house!
It'll be so much fun to be in the big city where I grew up, the lights,
the cold, maybe some snow and to be there with Tom where he grew
up as well. We can go and visit all the old neighbourhoods
and share with each other some childhood memories.
So even though we'll be away, I still like to decorate around
the house. For one thing we have people coming to stay here for
2 weeks and I'd like to make it festive for them and secondly,
I love to celebrate the season.
Things are different at this time of year.
Leaves that once dressed the trees and shrubs are gone and unveil
the beauty of the colour of the branches and their texture...
...the delicate huckleberry...
...the pine cones coated in sweet smelling, sticky sap...
...birds nests once hidden by the bushes and leaves, now empty, revealing
their secret places...
(these are rebuilt every spring as part of the mating ritual)
...and the trees and shrubs who keep this place so green all year round...
It rarely gets cold enough for skating here but a little bit of wishful thinking doesn't hurt...
...and a little tribute to the animals...
Time to check the fire and have a cup of tea!


Monday, December 10, 2012

The journey of wool!

Last week some friends and I went over to Saltspring Island.
One of them had to go to a meeting and afterwards we
went off to visit a small spinning mill.
Did you ever think of the journey which takes fleece to finished wool?

(Stella from Tugwell Creek Farm)

First there is all that growing of the fleece...the munching of grass and the
long wet winters and then the beginning of summer and off it comes!
Then it is brought to a mill...
           This is a small-ish operation but does quite a bit of processing
for people and shops on the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.
So we begin with raw fleece...
Then it's put into these big tubs for washing which is done with
cold water and NO agitation, otherwise it will felt.
After cleaning it goes into an old washing machine for just the spin cycle.
Then off to be air dried it what is basically a giant dehydrator
about 6 feet by 4 feet...
         Here is Amy who graciously gave us the tour.
She's from the East coast of Canada but lives on Saltspring now...
Here she explains the next step which is a carder...
            The wool is fed into a hopper and then feeds through these fine teeth
to separate the fibres...
It always amazes me to think of the person who invented such a machine!
Next it goes through a series of a few other machines of which I can't exactly
remember what they all do but eventually the one they call
"Rumplestiltskin" spins it into wool...

You do not want to get your fingers caught in these machines or
no more knitting for you!
And magically here you go...
Alternately your wool can be left in the 'roving' stage (which is what I use for needle felting) and can be spun yourself or put into this machine...
The unspun wool is put in between the two big grey trays which have a surface
to agitate the fibres. For now it was being used as a shelf.
It is closed down sandwich style and run for about
15 minutes and VOILA...
Sure saves a lot of time and arm muscles!!
Here's some of the waiting fleece and roving (unspun clean wool)...
Tools of the trade...
The Mill...
Small but mighty.
So next time you pull on a sweater or go to knit yourself some socks,
think of the journey this amazing fibre takes to get there.
Just outside the mill is the gate to the recycling depot which had the greatest design!
Recycling at it's finest...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Last of the leaves...

As the weather gets colder and the rains continue to come down,
the last of the fall leaves are swept off the trees, carpeting the path
and eventually turning into food for the woods and the tiny creatures who live under foot...

Griff and I went out to the Boy Scout camp the other morning and I took a chance bringing my
camera. It's been so wet and unpredictable, that I've barely ventured out 
with it, unable to keep it dry for even a brief amount of time.
So glad I took it this day as the rains had ceased briefly 
and there was the world...going on anyway, despite the weather...
The colours are mine...warm and jewel tones.
Not yet painted with the brush of frost and winter.
Just hanging on for a few more autumn glows.
And then he flew over...
The raven.
Soon joined by a mate.
It was so sweet to watch these two tenderly preening and cooing to each other...
The larger birds have begun their mating season and I've seen the eagles playing
in the sky and heard the Great Horned owls calling to each other.
As I walked through the woods, the rain was soft and the constant drip off of the trees
muffled birds in the bush and kept me aware of any larger animal sounds.
When I'm on my own I occasionally stop and listen and look behind 
just to keep aware. Griffin is my sentinel on my walks and keeps me well informed.
 When it comes time for me to stop and take pictures of something, 
he sits down and patiently and waits...listens...and watches.
He knows I sometimes take a while.
He's in no hurry.
Today I found the most delicate oyster mushrooms growing on an alder...
 They were as thin as skin and small and beautiful...
This year isn't the best for our fungi friends though.
It was such a long dry autumn and I think that's why I haven't seen many.
These little chubby ones were only about an inch high...
Now is the time to spot birds nests too.
All of those times that I've walked by this one while a whole other world was
being hatched and raised without me knowing!
The salmon  have long since come up the creek and it's full and wild now, going 
where water wants to go...
So for now a bit of respite from the rain...glad I could share some of our December.