Weekend of fairisle, painting, walks

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A tiny arctic fox painting with Pangur and some freshly finished fingerless mittens

Happy Mid January!

We have had quite the juxtaposing weekend!  Yesterday was the most mild Mid-January day of recent memory and today is well below 0 and snowing lightly.  I am so happy today!  This weekend has been lovely, with the starlings and crows at our door. I feel rejuvenated to create and just be one with the earth!  Painting, knitting and ultimately my favourite, being outside with the trees and light snow flakes. In all the quietness and ultimately achieving nothing that our society places importance on – I feel the happiest and most fulfilled. A full fridge, a fire in the stove, snow flakes dancing out my window and a very tired dog from a long hike.  Warm socks, a patient book and unlimited amounts of tea with the possibility of a cat cuddle <3<3<3

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A little Arctic Fox and northern flowers
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Some sweet fairisle fingerless mitts i dreamt up – they are made using random stash wool and an image in my head.
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The Mitts that I have completed over the past month and a half, for our Etsy shop and finally to be posted
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The Rain clouds are drawing closer casting dark shadows in this room ❤
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Early Sunday Morning – Latte, a nearly finished novel and a long abandoned but not forgotten knit
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Jamie, Henry and I ventured out today!  We only met birds and the earth was completely frozen which was a joy to walk on (no sinking in the mud!)
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We captured many of my knits for the little Etsy Shop!  So excited to finally share these small, humble items
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Witches’ Butter?  
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It was a little bit cold – Pine Green Fingerless Mitts for the shop
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Taken with my phone – The mossy path
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Lilac Fingerless Mitts up in the shop!
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SinEater Illustration Hoodie!  In all honesty, I do prefer to wear hoodies at home and absolutely love love love this artist’s work!
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Black Lopi Fingerless with Linden Tea on the forest Bridge
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Sweet Little Pangur Paws

And for this evening, Jamie and I will have a nice dinner to celebrate our 8 years together, sit by the fire and I will more than likely start another little knit for the shop and will finish The Good People by Hannah Kent.  We started to watch Tales from the Green Valley AGAIN (about once a season we watch this series). It is one of my most soothing and therapeutic shows – I love it! All I need is to hear the opening music and I feel whisked to a very safe place. Jamie and I have developed stories between the historians and archaeologists – for instance, we are certain something happened between Alex and Chloe… but anyway, for another time and place !!

I wonder if you can feel the peace I feel this weekend through the photographs?  I forgot to mention that Jamie gifted me with a new camera for Christmas and I am so incredibly excited about the pictures that I have been taking.  I do have A LOT to learn because though I have always enjoyed taking pictures – I have never done more than point and shoot.  There is a bit more too this one and I am in a wee bit over my head at the moment.  All in good time, right?

Love & Light for the last half of January!  I am already looking at seed catalogues as the light ascends!

Hope You’re well and DO let me know if you watch the link I provided 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

 

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A New Year

 

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From my studio window on The Winter Solstice,

Happy New Year!!

Hope you are all well and enjoying the rising of the sun.  I have been feeling very content with a general good feeling about times to come.  2017 was a very big year for ourselves and my family and I am so excited and honestly just motivated this year!

This winter has been strange as anything.  We have been bombarded with frigid temperatures that keep you inside for days.  Breathing is difficult, my lungs grasping for air in the face of arctic winds!  The river was completely frozen.  Just the other day, as I was walking Henry through the fields to the river, I saw snowmobiles in the middle of the river, darting all over the ice like flies on south-facing windows.  We even saw some seals hanging out, lazing on the ice in the sun.

Today – today was 13 degrees Celsius… fog rolling up the river that has completely melted.  My boots sink in the mud and the animals need to be wiped down with a towel when they come inside.  We took advantage of the lack of ice and mild temperatures to bring wood in today.  Tonight we are expecting freezing temperatures again and for the foreseeable future. I would love a good snow storm…

I just wanted to share with you a couple of photographs from the past couple of weeks!  I have been totally absent from social media and strangely excited to get back into the swing of things.  I will have to ‘upgrade’ this website soon and hope to just be more active with getting my art available again.  I have been busy working at the central library branch in town and just other things that I don’t even know really!  I feel like I’ve been saying this for months but I honestly sense a change.

 

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Henry’s Spot ❤ ❤ – watching the sunset on the Winter Solstice
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Working away on little stash mittens
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Before the frigid temperatures – we were going out for wonderful walks – sadly the temperatures have been around -30 C with the wind chill and it’s difficult to breath
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Just around 0 C!
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working by the bridge for an afternoon
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home ❤
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A small island journey
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Up West to this Gem
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Loom Machines when you enter the door!  Not running for the Holidays but the store was still open
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lichen pink
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Home – MacAusland 2 ply for some Maritime inspired folk mittens – time to rearrange my wool!
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All of my wool – slowly getting down there!  I LOVE using up things that I have – part of my frugal spirit
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New Colours to be put away !!!

STILL LIFE…

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Botanical “Knowledge” cards – this being ST JOHN’s WART (and now I’m looking for a St. JOhn’s Wart – Hypericum perforatum – seed supplier in Canada) One step closer to the Harry Potter Universe if I can learn all of the latin names 😉
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Christmas at home this year – my mom made some crochet ornaments for us (hardened with sugar water:)
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The steps down to the basement
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Sent home early due to storm the other week
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Up on my list of happiest moments just the quiet snow, setting sun
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New Sin Eater, one of my favourite contemporary artists hoodie (thankyee, i will try my best to keep it from animal hair)
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Stash Mitts!!  I made this little sweet pair up using two different types of wool that I found in my stash!  ALSO “The Good People” by Hannah Kent, I think she and I are somehow connected, ha.
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Mild Day by the frozen river
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My heart literally melts
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tiny simple paintings just to clear my mind – meditative for me
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One more view ❤

And I apologize for the overload of Photographs!!  Tomorrow I plan to post again so I can keep up with having more trimmed and neat posts that consist of one central topic (like this weekend – oops might be a little broad but less so than pictures from the last 3 weeks).  The Etsy shop will be updated tomorrow along with this little blog here of mine).

Thank you everyone so much for your time and positive thoughts.  I wish you all a very blessed New Year, full of creativity, joy and peace!!  I’m so excited to share more with you and hope you enjoy one of my favourite renditions of favourite medieval song : )

Julia ❤

Snow, Coffee & Living in the Country Side

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Morning!  Our house from the road , we have a long driveway and I have been planting trees and shrubs to hopefully create a tiny woodland – all asleep now.

This morning was so beautiful!  I woke before the sun to light a fire and finish reading my book (Sea Road finished, now on to Galway Bay). The snow that fell last evening enveloped the land and I was giddy to go out for a walk as soon as the sun rose.  Jamie and I had oatmeal and I made a thermos of Coffee to bring out with me.

 

 

Such a cold morning, but crisp and clean without any wind!  Henry and I walked down to the river, marvelling at the freshly fallen snow, the clouds, the low but bright sun.

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Following Fox Tracks, through the field to the river – fox/coyote tracks are usually perfectly straight unlike dogs which go to and fro!
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pathway to the river
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An attempt at Panorama – The Salt water river we live by,  so many bald eagles live in this spot
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Water mimics the sky

Henry and I continued, after visiting the river to walk a small woodland trail that leads us to a tree that I love – a towering white pine.

 

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Coffee with this Pine – The forest before this tree has been decimated – cut for lumber/Firewood (who knows).  If you see the space on satellite google maps – the land looks scarred and damaged.  I am so thankful this tree was left standing although I sometimes wonder how he must feel standing before a decimated forest
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Home to a homemade Yuletide Card

So, I sat here for a little bit with Henry, having a morning coffee and thinking about the trees.  I feel uneasy sometimes here because it is privately owned.  Farmland that is rented and used year after year for the same crop.   Hurting soils.  When I returned home, feeling very much at peace having spent some time by the water, with the pine and watching Henry frolic around, a man knocked on my door.  He told me that he saw my tracks and was wondering if it was me who walks in the fields.  He is a trapper and told me that Henry’s tracks were close to his snares and I should keep her on a leash (I do keep her on a leash along a certain stretch of my walk down there because I was unsure if there were traps – now I know for certain).  She would likely be killed if she was caught in one.  Obviously I am extremely grateful for this knowledge – I feel sick thinking of something happening to her.  He was very apologetic and nice as well and he really needn’t be, I am the one just walking unknowingly on someone’s land.   I just feel sad thinking that this is the reality of living in the country side.  People will continue to hunt, to trap the beautiful red fox and eastern coyote for their furs.  I wish we could buy more land to create safe environments for wildlife.  For soil to flourish.  It is a life goal to buy a plot of land outside our acre in order to create these environments – to allow life to flourish, to humanely harvest firewood through selective cutting – all while planting trees.   To see the fox tracks and not worry about her well being and her kits.

It frustrates me beyond anything else thinking of how we treat the planet.  We clear cut and poison the land for 100’s of acres of mono agriculture – all while pushing wildlife to live on the fringes.  Then we allow hundreds of creatures to be culled every year (Okay much more than hundreds, but I am referring to just the small province where I live).  My sister told me that she saw a Coyote Pelt blanket for sale at Hudson Bay.  It was 4000 Canadian dollars – trappers make 50 CAD dollars for a pelt.  50 Dollars for a life, all while the consumer is fooled into thinking it’s worth much more than that.

I know this is part of our cultural heritage – Prince Edward Island actually was heavily involved in fox farming at the turn of the 20th century.  If you have been to PEI, you certainly would have noticed the red fox methodically trotting along the road.  In Charlottetown, they walk the sidewalks. Just the other day, I saw one sitting by the Tim Horton’s drive through window, cautiously approaching the cars that were stopped to pick up their coffees.  Despite the healthy population, I wish they could live freely in our dwindling woodlands.  I wish I could walk through the vacant winter fields without fear for my dog.  Luckily, we do have many trails so we can do just this, where hunting is prohibited.   Where towering white pines still stand and trout swim upstream.  Basalm Firs stop erosion of hillsides.  Places where I imagine the earth feels like her old self.  I’ll continue to walk these trails rather than the dormant farmland and fringe woods.

I do think that there are so many incredibly small things we can do, like planting a single tree, a plant solely for the bees.   Deciding to pay attention to the natural world in any way, whether it’s noting the cycle of the moon or the changing leaves.  We just need to give a little bit more attention to this beautiful planet, good things will follow ❤

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Early Morning and high clouds

Our little shop

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Home in the fog

Good Evening Kindreds!

It’s so dark!  I am sitting by the fire, the room lit with fairy lights and a cup of black tea piping hot beside me.  A friend of mine gave us some lavender sugar and I find it so delicious in a strong cup of black tea ❤  It is so late for me to be drinking caffeine but I am oh so tired and I very much felt like sharing a couple of things with you.

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shaking hands, blurry picture but our forest cat is beginning to embrace his nature

The weather continues to promise snow but only to cruelly trick us with rain.  I guess that is life living in a maritime climate.  Today has been a wet day and we have chosen to stay home, only to take Henry out in the trees behind our house.  The cats are venturing outside each day.  They stick right around the front door, guarding the entrance to their domain (or perhaps waiting for us to let them back in?).  A day inside finally means I can sort the latest knits for our shop!

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Latest Knits to make listings for : ) My work desk a wee bit disorganized 

I have been having a lot of fun lately, working with my stash of lett lopi.  I have a very strong desire to actually use all of my wool stash before continuing to buy new wool.  I love using everything that I have and don’t really like buying anything without a real purpose behind it.  I currently have enough wool to make 3 sweaters and several pairs of fingerless mitts/mittens what have you.  This winter I will focus on the small bits, some of which have been set aside for several years!  I first knit an Icelandic Sweater with Lett Lopi in 2013 and believe I may still have some from this time.

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I have three small bags full of bits and bobs of lett lopi – I love using them and seeing this stash dwindle
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New work space – Jamie put the shelves up and painted the room ❤ I absolutely love it in all it’s simplicity.  Current Wool Stash – I would love to free up the top shelf for only plants.
Decisions.
Decisions, Decisions!
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Handknit stripped socks
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Fingerless Mittens in Heaven Blue and Hazel Heather
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Woodland trail
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Maritime Folk Mittens – Prince Edward Island Wool and Flying Geese pattern, knit by my very special Mama
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“New” Cedar Chest for all the woollens and a beauty kitty
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a couple of tags for our handknits
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Another pair knit by my Mom
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New knits, a cozy chair, Arthur Rackham Fairy and my little fairy cat, Pangur.

 

Only a couple of pictures that I have captured over the last couple of days.  I am currently looking at 2 weeks before my next shift in the library (unless I am called in) and Jamie gets 10 days off from his work for the holidays! I am definitely feeling like hibernating while simultaneously desperately wishing for snow to play in.  Jamie and I are getting snow shoes for eachother for Yule so we can continue to walk our favourite trails despite the amount of snow we usually receive in the deep winter.

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I have a lot of tiny knitting projects planned.  My wordpress account is almost at the full capacity for storage space so I will be changing my account to a ‘business account’ soon (unlimited space) so I hope to raise the funds to support this little website with my knits.  I hope i can come up with some wee special mitts, etc. I will be busy sitting by this fire, thinking up colour combinations with the remaining lopi 🙂

Hope you are all well, we are nearly at the solstice to welcome the lighter half of the year!  So much hope.

As a farewell parting gift, A beautiful Scandinavian Folk song for you:

Gjallarhorn – Ye Ride so Carefully

Blessings to you ❤

Julia

Flu and Herbs

 

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Herbal teas for ailing grey days: Ginger, lemon and Honey (repeat)

How do you do 🙂

I am recovering from what we think must have been the flu, but doing much better!  I feel like I am back to my old self and will return to the world of making, using my hands and senses, I can’t wait!

But I did just spend several days with the sole purpose of expelling a flu, thinking about plants but mostly sleeping.  But I’m ready to move on…

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Companions in ill health – notice Henry’s foot over Pangur!

I strangely enjoy the challenge of being sick.  I like to see how I can expel the sickness with old remedies (on top of lots of rest).  This week, after a shift in the library and a meeting with the spinners guild (yes, I joined the spinner’s guild and have a wheel on loan!) I felt the slow creeping sickness in my chest.  After Jamie’s company Christmas party on Saturday, I knew I was definitely sick…

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My view for the past several days!  Today, I was under the sun during a lunch break and got to breath in the salty air ❤

And so, I made a huge pot of broth using the hardy plants in the garden: Kale, loads of parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary. etc. with rutabaga, beet root and the habanero peppers I picked and dried this summer.  Luckily, I didn’t have to go into town for work until today so had 3 solid days to dedicate to my well being ❤

I wanted to share a wee bit with you about one of these wonderful sunlight consuming greens…

P L A N T  A L L Y

S A G E

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A woman collecting sage from a waddled garden bed with a beautifully woven basket (I like how the earth looks like it has been severed in the foreground), Tacuinum Sanitatis, c. 1400

Sage (Salveo) meaning, ‘I am well.’

Such a beautiful herb!  When I am feeling unwell, I add sage to everything! The medieval era loved sage and saw it as a plant of immortality.  I’ve always been interested in the medieval plant world.  What did their gardens look like?  How did they use their plants? How did they interact with them?  Sage is one herb that always stood out in this era as an optimum health tonic. In the 12th century poem, Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum the author proclaims, “Why should a man die in whose garden sage grows?  Against the power of death there is no medicine in our gardens; but sage calms the nerves, takes away hand tremors, and helps cure acute fever… O sage! The saviour! of nature the conciliator!”

Aside from the fun historical perspective that stretches back well before the 11th-15th century (Much herbal and plant knowledge was derived from rewritten texts from the ancient world), Sage is known to be an ANTI INFLAMMATORY agent –  It also suppresses perspiration, aids memory and digestion!  I have three plants growing right by our front door, for a woman is said to rule where sage grows 😉

** Sage is toxic in large quantities, so do take precaution! **

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S A N G E (sage) on the right, from “The Tudor Pattern Book”

 

Anywho!  I best get some rest so I can start tomorrow anew, refreshed and well after 3 solid days of dedicating myself to consuming herbal broths and teas curled by the fire (Also watched the new Planet Earth – it’s superb!).  Currently reading The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone while I wait for The Good People by Hannah Kent to come into the library (So very excited!!).

Hope you’re well and escaping the flu season this year! Onward!

Slán!

Julia

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Fairisle Mitts in Single Ply – flu type project that seems never ending

Entering the Dark time with Company

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Peppermint, ginger and green tea for our late November walk.  We stopped along the streams to sit and drink a hot cup.  Health to you!

The sun has set and it’s not yet 4:30!  The days have been grey, but every evening the horizon hosts a brilliant pink and gold sunset, fading in the west to a gentle dream-like purple.  It only skims the skyline below the grey cloud, but it is beautiful! My window faces the west.

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View from my work window – to the West – that fading dreamlike winter sky.  And overnight, the snow melted! (The only time of day we glimpse a blue sky – The window is obstructing the view of the river, it reflects the sky and is lovely).

 

We are having very happy days, my Mom is visiting and we have been spending time knitting by the fire sipping peppermint tea, re-potting plants, going for long winter walks with the dogs, watching silly Holiday movies and gushing over Collette O’Neill of Bealtaine Cottage.  She brought rose plants for me, hand-sewn bags for our etsy shop and little pieces of porcelain.  Every evening we have been having delicious home cooked meals (last night was a fish chowder – one of my favourite meals of all time… not stereotypical at all for a Maritimer) and I’ve just felt so warm and happy.  Tomorrow, I am working in one of the libraries (and consequently, going to the Spinners & Weavers Guild to do some spinning and dyeing!) so we will say goodbye just for a short while.

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A late afternoon walk on November 28th
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A walk in the woods before the snow
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before the first snowfall of the season
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Beauty of freshly fallen snow! A stream between the trees.
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Red Squirrel Galore, Two best friends very excited

We both love to use our hands – create!  Since she has been here she has made a sweater for a wee one and has already started a pair of baby soakers (She has two grandchildren on the way and I am soon to be an aunt to 3!!!).  I have attached the arms of the grey lopi sweater and put it aside to work on a pair of lopi mittens for the Etsy shop.  I also finally used some calendula and rose infused oil, combined with beeswax and spruce sap that I collected last winter to create a salve.

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Calendula & Rose that have been steeped in oil since August!  I finally drained the herb infused oil for making salve today
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I finally used the spruce resin that I collected last winter during winter walks in Nova Scotia, and with the calendula oil – made a salve.  Perfect for wounds or cracked skin this winter.
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Among the spruce, I did make a grand mistake using my regular pot to make this salve – sap is very tricky to clean :\ I think it’s worth it though!

We also went to a plant shop in Charlottetown this week to bring home a little bit of pure happiness.  Plants are so expensive so I just continually get clippings from other plants, root or start from seeds but occasionally, I buy a new plant >.<  I bought a little cactus and a succulent.  I also received a very sacred package from Incredible Seed Company in Nova Scotia.  I ordered a some seeds that need warm and then cold stratification in order for them to germinate.  I will be busy this weekend 🙂  I have already started dreaming about planting for next year so there is nothing better than getting started early 😀

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Two new plants!  I am so excited about these two!!  I now have 3 cacti plants and a new succulent that is very beautiful.  
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Repotting a couple of plants – the bird terracotta pots are new, as are the plants inside of them!  The rain came and washed away the snow (the rock is a piece of Obsidian that I found at a garage sale many moons ago!)
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A Begonia, Hoya and Moses-in-the-cradle rooting in an old pepsi bottle that I dug up while digging gardens.   Now have a home in my very last plant pot (eep!)
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A couple of plants that require extra love and care for germination (except for the lamb’s ear – I just added those on a whim in the case I forget when I place a larger order in the new year).  We have Witch Hazel, Mulberry, Apple, Cherry, Dogwood and Korean Pine!  SO much you can do on 1.25 acres.
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Two Seabuckthorns I grew from seeds (also I think some poppy seeds fell into these pots!).  hopeful for these two 

And now, I am sitting by the fire listening to the ambient works of Aphex Twin.  My Mom and Jamie are making dinner together and I am going to join them.  I do hope you enjoy this and are finding happiness and solace in the darker part of the year (and happiness to all those in the light half!).

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An absolutely wonderful gift from a reader!  Thank you SO much Holly, I am so excited to read about this fascinating woman.  This book is right up my alley, I love it!! 
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Until next time ❤

 

 

Autumnal Handknit Sweater

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Rust, Ivory, Black and Air Blue Hand Knit Icelandic Style Cardigan!  Inspired by the East Coast in the fall – where blazing eastern forest meets sky and water ❤

Hello and how are you!

I am well, wrapped in blankets with a hot cup of tea, candles lit and one of my favourite Irish bands playing, the Bothy Band.  It’s Sunday and rain is gently falling.  We have been having fires every day, even if it’s just to keep the damp out on a mild, wet morning.

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indoor world

 

We have been so busy as well!  I started a new job in the library system, working as a call in.  I had best get use to driving at night and in all weather since the job requires me to go quite far to some rural branches.  I am excited to be back in the library, I already have a long queue of books on hold (just finished The Moomins Vol 1) and will share with you later more of what I’ll be reading this winter (I’m going to work through my long list of “To-Read” on Goodreads).  Apart from work… there is STILL wood to stack, wood to bring in, vegetables to take care of (I’m down to the last of the tomatoes) and cats that are beginning to explore the outside world.  There is an etsy shop, art work and a very, very active dog.  Jamie is also giving me guitar lessons again so I’m hoping to pick it up again and encourage him to make more music as well!

Before I launch into knitting… our little 1.25 acre is also constantly on my mind.  I have been transplanting saplings that have come up on the outskirts of the farmer’s field, buried many chestnuts, planted lupin seeds that I collected in July from the wayside and transplanted some of our rose plants and lavender.  My ultimate goal is to have every inch of land planted with trees, bushes, flowers… anything!  And then buy more land :D.  Anywho…. this is all a side because I came here to share with you my latest cardigan handnit.

H A N D K N I T  C A R D I G A N

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Just the buttons left! 

I cast this sweater on in the blazing sun of glorious July!  Yes… it has taken me quite a while.  It was the first cardigan, knit in the round that I have ever made which is why it took me so long.  I believe I actually finished the bulk of the work in August or early September but waited until a visit with my Mom before I actually steeked the body (Steeking is the word applied to the actually cutting up the middle of the body to open up your cardigan sweater).  Thank goodness my Mom has absolutely no qualms about trying anything in the fibre art world.  When we finally were together in the latter part of October, she actually did the crochet stitch up my purled stitches and then I (palms sweating and heart beating!  Clearly a life or death situation) cut the sweater! It was so satisfying 😀

The inspiration for the design comes from the fall here in the Canadian East Coast, where miles of forest stretch along the ocean shore, spotted with wooden white houses.  I have started to really simplify my designs, favouring simple blocks of colour.   I really love the rust Léttlopi!  I find it both striking and subtle (if that makes any sense…).

I started the sweater with the full intention of finishing in October.  It’s nearly a month after when I thought I would be writing this post.  At the end of October, my sister, Mom and I travelled to Ontario to see our family and friends, thus putting a halt to all of my work (It was a very nice visit and I hope to be back again soon!).  And just other life things have continued to pop up, derailing my physical artistic world.

So below I have shared a couple pictures of the fall here, my sketch book and the sweater!  I have not taken anywhere near as many pictures this fall but alas, here are a couple!

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Home in October, the leaves are all gone now but these hundred year old sugar maples are beauties!
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Little messy paintings for inspiration
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Cape breton house by the sea – Colour source for the sweater – Red mountains filled with sugar maples, birch and spruce, the blue/grey water and sky and a cute white house. 
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The colours of our backyard, briefly in October ❤
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Finished!  
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Right after I finished sewing on the buttons, one quick picture!  Buttons successfully fit in the button holes, phew! 
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The rain let up so we went to the back behind our property to get a couple of photos!  I love the contrast against the grey sky and golden grasses.
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Out after the rain – a  little close up
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wooden buttons and abandoned farm land 

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And it’s raining again

 

It’s raining much harder now.    It is also my sister Meaghan’s birthday today! We are separated by the strait, but I am wishing her all the best in Nova Scotia today!  Send her loving vibes this day ❤

I hope you enjoyed this post!  I am settling in to actually put up the listing of this sweater on Etsy and respond finally to my comments and messages on both wordpress and instagram.  I have generally been steering away from Social Media and have finally developed a pretty solid system to keep me from being distracted.  Perhaps I’ll share this with you in another post!

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My Knitting Projects!  A Grey Icelandic Cardigan!  I’m hooked on making the cardigans despite being a bit more work!  Oh and those one ply mittens… maybe next year i can share them with you 😉

**A note on this sweater, it is made from I C E L A N D I C W O O L!  The specific name of the wool is called Léttlopi  which essentially means light Icelandic Wool (Létt = Light / lopi = Icelandic Wool).  This  wool is made using the sheared fleece of Icelandic Sheep.  Icelandic Sheep are very different than other sheep around the world, they are descendants of Norse Sheep from 1000 years ago!  Their unique fleece is composed of 2 layers, one which is water repellent and the other is an insulating coat.  This unique fleece keeps our friends dry and warm in the rather unpredictable Northern Atlantic Icelandic climate.  If you have any allergy or discomfort with wool, this wool is most likely not for you.  It is a hardy and durable wool which can withstand weather.  I live on an Island in Atlantic Canada and find this type of wool ideal for working outdoors in the fall/winter and “spring”  (our springs sometimes feel non-existent). **

Be well!!!!!!  Slán a’charaid!

Dyeing Wool with Mushrooms!

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The woods by our house – autumnal glory

Hello and I hope you are well!

It has been awhile.  I am SO inconsistent, especially because I have been drawn into a place and time sans social media or blogging or even e-mail.  Of my own choosing… I didn’t go to an off-grid camp or anything like that (although.. I would love to :))!  Sometimes, I just love to detach and it’s beginning to feel like such a luxury, so wonderful to be “offline.”  It’s funny because I feel as though going back online is returning to “the real world” when in fact, it’s anything but!  But… it’s the reason why I feel like I’m not alone in my musings, my hobbies, the way I see this world!

Alas!  I have SO much to share.  The first is that our dear orange tabby, Petey, is well!  After my last post, we had to bring him back to the vet.  He was put on a catheter and had to stay at overnight : (  I was so worried about him…. but knew that we could not do what the vet could at home. He is much better and is drinking fluids and peeing.  He slept curled up against me the whole night that he came home ❤

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Walks close to home and a haven for red squirrels, fox and mushrooms!

I have been making and gardening quite a bit.  Jamie and I planted garlic this morning.  Our wood is almost completely split and stacked and we had our first frost and consequently fire yesterday.  I love fall so much, it’s so fleeting.  On our walk this morning, most of the bright red sugar maple leaves were already under our feet.  The earth is damp and the north winds strong.  Henry and I have been walking down a beautiful wooded path to the river that we live by every day.  The mossy parts of this wood are replete with beloved mushrooms.

Mushrooms…. the reason why I write to you today.  What amazing specimens they are!  Not only are they adorable and surrounded with fairy lore, they are beyond healthful and practical!  A couple of months ago, I posted on instagram about wanting to dye a pair of socks with lichen.  A user suggested that I use a type of mushroom: Cortinarius Semisanguineas or red-gilled webcap.  On one of our walks, I was looking very closely (okay, on my belly in the moss looking up at the gills…not weird at all) and noticed how beautiful the colours of this mushroom was and it clicked.  It was the very mushroom that the user had suggested! I got so excited and went back to the spot with my knife and a basket to collect and experiment ❤

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Cortinarius Semisanguineas!  How beautiful are these colours?
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Warm Autumn Day in The east of Canada
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Collecting – I sliced the mushroom so not to damage the root of the mushroom in order to grow and thrive next year.

And so!  What did I do?  Welllllll, I first collected mushrooms.  I have read a lot about dyeing wool and nothing intrigues me more than using what grows close to you rather than what you can buy from a grocer.  I am not despairing the use of avocado or yellow onion skins (I plan on trying both!) I just don’t find the process as exciting, rewarding and directly engaging with this eco-region!  Something that naturally finds its home and is nourished by the same rain water that falls on my skin, on the earth that grows our food.  I want so badly to be more entrenched in the land around me. Dyeing is such an ancient way to connect to the land, to even represent the region you live!  I remember as a Celtic Studies student, learning that Scottish tartans began to be associated with certain clans simply due to the plants that were available in their region!

I first boiled some water with Alum and Cream of Tartar.  Once boiled, I added the wool and let it simmer for a short while (This is a mordant.  A mordant is the chemical composition that holds the natural dye to the fibre, otherwise you could end up with very washed out colours after exposure to the elements or a wash). I used pure white wool from MacAuslands here on PEI and an angora wool from We are Knitters.  once this wool was dry, I collected a small basket full of mushrooms (I only like taking a portion of what the earth provides), boiled them on the fire in the backyard and added the wool with the boiled mushroom broth in a mason jar.  Cortinarius Semisanguineas are actually poisonous so be cautious when handling!  They will not harm as a dye but they are not edible and I wasn’t crazy about having them in the house for long, especially with 4 wild ones about.   I repeated this process 3 times, hanging the experimental wool in a crab apple tree to dry.

I have looked at quite a few pictures online.  I believe it was the amount of the mordant that made my end result significantly paler than what I have seen and the amount of mushroom caps that I used.  Other examples are such a deep orange or red!  I really like the salmon shade that these turned out. I did try one strand of wool without a mordant and it was significantly darker.

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A Little mushroom study – The drawing on the right is a result of humidity, it looks a little strange but honestly, this is what they looked like!  This door was closed to critters while I worked with this fungi!  I love to draw plants and fungi that grow close to home.
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Drying outdoors after their first dye bath
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A closer look
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A second dye bath – I started to do most of the process outdoors – partly because red-gilled webcaps are poisonous
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After a second dye bath – in our crab apple tree
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Beauties after the 2nd bath
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Beneath the mother white pine ❤  This tree is wonderful
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A third dye bath never hurt anyone…. with the straw and wood for a couple of nights – a deep red!
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Finished Result, I brought it back to the woods where I found the mushrooms to show them what wonders they do for us ❤
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End Result – My sorry attempts at twisting a skein of yarn and my mushroom study

There you have it!  My first experiment with a close to home fungi!  I am SO excited about this project.  It was a lot of fun and very inspiring.  I hope you enjoyed this, even if you just looked at the photographs!  In our yard is a beautiful horse chestnut tree and I hope to use the husks to actually make a pair of fingerless mitts using the two colours 🙂

Autumnal blessings to you and I hope this post finds you well, inspired and happy ❤ I would love to hear about your own experiments or even desires with natural dyeing!

September Harvests

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Our very overgrown vegetable and flower garden ❤
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Teddy Sunflower and Bachelor Buttons

Oh September!

Come and gone, but not for long.

It’s the first of October and I am sitting on the cold, bathroom floor.  Petey, the orange tabby is curled up beside me in a little nest.  This morning, we made an emergency vet call because we were convinced that our orange companion, Petey, had a UTI or FLUTD.  All vets are closed on Sundays on PEI, hence the emergency visit.  He had a shot of antibiotics, pain medication and has been put on a special diet.  I feel the need to sit with him for the day and monitor him – check on his pee and simply let him know that he has someone here with him.  I do love him and hate to think of him in any kind of distress.  The vet did tell us that it was caught early enough that he will make a full recover – but still, poor Petey!!!  Regardless, I am still worried about him 😦

And so, I am taking this bathroom time with a sleeping Petey to share with you the harvesting photos that I took over the month of September.  I actually wrote much of this blog post last week so it may seem a little disjointed from my sweet cat, Petey.

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Picking Heirloom Tomatoes 🙂

My love for this earth bursts during this golden cast month.  The mornings and evenings are cool while the afternoons are drenched in a favourable heat.  I rejoice, knowing that the tomatoes on the vine will ripen and our pumpkins are finally swelling with each setting sun (in this case, in a tree).  The tips of the maples are painted ruby red and the mossy forest floor is sprouting F U N G I !

In all Mother Earth’s beauty, I have been busy harvesting from our gardens.  Organic food is so perishable that I have been hopping right on preserving.  Jams, relishes, pickles or simply freezing.  I grew up on a 2 acre property with a very large organic garden and was so accustomed to preserved food that I really feel like it’s a natural part of life.  Sometimes, I feel like I am a 20 something year old who is meant to be a crone, living tucked away and dabbling in spinning a handmade home (refraining from turning my neighbours milk sour or destroying crops, of course).

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The Pumpkin plant that grew from the compost!  Last year, we put our halloween pumpkins in the compost and in return, received an incredibly healthy plant with many pumpkins! These are still growing – though still green.
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The plant is so healthy that it actually attached itself to the apple tree by the compost!  The tree is suspending some very healthy looking pumpkins 😀

The days, grow colder and colder and I am anticipating the deep, dark.  We have had a steady harvest of beans, squash, tomatoes, beets, carrots, cucumbers and a multitude of herbs!  Our small freezer is already packed full of stewed tomatoes, blanched beans and foraged berries (we need to invest in a deep freeze!).  All of this food is coming from a relatively small patch of land.  We live on a 1.25 acre plot, most of which is wooded, and the total area used for gardening is VERY small!  To this point, I have done all of the gardening on my own, with just a shovel and a rake.  Perhaps I should delve more into how, but it’s just so simple and very, very rewarding!  Not only in the basic fact that you’re not paying for food but in the whole process of watching a plant grow, flower and produce fruit.  In a season, you over see the cycle of life which ultimately nourishes your body and soul  >.<

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Straw we have been collecting for the chicken coop and garlic beds.  Dorothy knows what’s up.
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A little corner garden, some slugs got to some of my tomato plants this year so I saw them as a sacrifice to the slug gods …. makes perfect sense.
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Using my shirt to bring home apples from an old, twisted tree.  Our very kind neighbours told us that the tree that we have been visiting is an old variety called “Alexander & Wheatley.”  I found information on Alexander trees but nothing on “Alexander & Wheatley”  I imagine perhaps it’s what they were called on Prince Edward Island 😀
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Potato harvest and hand knit fingerless mitts.  I planted these potatoes last March/April using cuttings from our bag of PEI russet potatoes (We love our potatoes :D)
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Black turtle Beans!  I have slowly been shelling these and placing them on a screen – hopefully we will have enough to have a couple meals of delicious refried beans but next year I have grand plans for more turtle beans.
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The Onions, we only harvested maybe 2 dozen but I assure you my eyes well up from these fresh onions
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Stewing our Tomatoes – We grew a couple different varieties this year, including Mennonite Orange Beefsteak, Purple Cherokee, Alaska Tomatoes and German Johnson!
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Juice from our Veggies and Herbs 😀  The colour comes from those lovely beets
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Dearest Petey ❤ Pumpkins have very tough skins – this white pumpkin is actually from last year! The plant is a rosemary that my mom gave me.  I am going to over winter her and put her out next spring.
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Making apple jam from forages apples
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Checking on the tomatoes, I suppose!
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Heritage Tomatoes!  – Aside from eating them regularly with meals – I’ve been stewing and freezing them so we don’t have to purchase canned stewed tomatoes
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This one has been eating tomatoes as well… a small bounty and my favourite flower -foxglove (digitalis)
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Acorn Squash
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Kitchen magic – I used the skins and cores to make some apple cider vinegar
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Butternut Squash!  My absolute favourite 😀
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This pumpkin is growing suspended from an apple tree!  We have a very large plant growing from the compost which has flown right into a tree and now hosts numerous small pumpkins.  I love it!
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starting to fill the pantry in the cold room! We only had 2 jars left from last year so thank goodness the earth provides!

This evening, as I sit with Petey, Jamie is making Veggie Burgers using bulgar and plenty of kale from the garden. Roasting rutabaga and beets.  I’ll likely come back in here to keep Petey company afterwards (we need to keep him from roaming because his infection makes him pee outside of the litter box, we don’t want him playing with the other cats and his food is separate from hugo & Pangurs).

This morning when we drove out to our vet clinic, we passed by the new Amish farms here on PEI.  They are stunning – beautiful handmade homes and barns and gardens, arg!  I gush over them every time!  We took a different route home and passed by their freshly built, one room school house.

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sunroom, strawflowers and afternoon light

M O O D S

I am currently listening to one of my favourite musical groups – Boards of Canada  They help me go into a meditative state when I’m writing or making art (and wondering how I actually provided the video in my last blog post…. WordPress evades me ). Reading Issue # 5 of the graphic novel Sweet Tooth (it’s super if you like apocalyptic stories) and hoping to do an Amazon order to get Dina’s Book by Herbjørg Wassmo and The Good People by Hannah Kent 😀   All of this while sitting on the bathroom floor, drinking a glass of wine while Petey rests.

Happy October, I very much hope your cupboards are full and your appetite for books and nature and art is being quenched in some way or another.   It’s time for our veggie burgers ❤  Goodnight to you all!

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Egon Schiele “Sunflower,” 1909.

 

 

 

 

 

Bumbling by

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Pink Yarrow and a spider’s web – on my walk 

This morning, this morning… I am sitting cross legged in a wicker chair with a cup of something warm and a cat and a dog.  Beside a large open window, letting the damp, warm air kiss our cheeks.  This window is the first thing I open in the morning and sometimes it lets the damp seep into our house.  Sometimes, I forget that the seasons are changing.

The season is changing.  It’s evident everywhere, from the geese beginning to fly overhead to the rusting leaves.  The spiders building their webs in the cracks of our home and my mindset beginning to shift from a slow almost lethargic summer to a hopeful, productive fall.  At least, a buzzing in my mind that I can’t shut out.

Despite feeling this urge, I have been still operating in the dark.  I can’t seem to get anything going.  Walking is what frees me for the time being.  Where I come up with ideas.  I feel as though, this might be very cryptic so let me speak plainly. Accompanied by Brian Eno, some very talkative birds and the hum of the distant highway.  Life continues!

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Walks with Fall Asters, rosehips and still the beautiful painted lady butterfly migration

These past few days I have had an old friend from my childhood visiting us.  In the early morning, I am finding just a little bit of time to write.  And somehow I still can’t get out what I want to say, despite it being S O B A S I C!  Visits with friends often inspire me to change some habit of mine or be more creative.  It isn’t often you spend an afternoon sitting at the beach and reflecting about life for hours.  The waves reassure you.

I need to find time to create more, apply for artist grants, look at artist residencies so I can focus without thinking of domestic work that needs to be done, create and create and hold nothing back.  Currently, harvesting and preparing food has taken over my life.  Keeping our house sane.  I need to put our ideas into fruition, looking into publishing our patterns and artist works in an artist book.  Sometimes, I just need a push and maybe being more honest about it in my blog will help me.   I’m sure this is of no interest to most, but I think this will help me.  I often feel like social media isn’t quite the place for me.  I don’t really feel like I fit in with what I see, especially with what I have become associated with.

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Visit with friends in our living room – books & writing 
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To start drawing again

I’ll be honest, it was my tarot reading that has made me confront this.  The Magician: taking action, acting consciously, being creative.  I believe the card that represents me best is the High Priestess, which is essentially the opposite of the Magician.  It’s an intuitive card focusing on looking within and your sub-conscious.  But right now, The Magician spoke to me.

And so, I best start taking action.  My world of artistry and craftswomanship.  Where to start?  Maybe with a morning walk ❤

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King Bolete? Not entirely sure, but as I was walking Henry yesterday, I was thinking about on the wild bush craft site it says that we have King Boletes on PEI but that I’ve never seen one and how could i miss one!  The moment I had that thought, I was staring at this mushroom and thought “THAT’S ONE!”   I’m not entirely sure though so I did give it to the slugs… and other critters