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.
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 : )
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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 ❤
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 ❤
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.
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!
I wanted to share a few pictures of the latest Pangur Bán sweater. I have it all ready to be shipped off to California but wanted to document it as much as possible! It’s a funny thing, dedicating countless hours to knitting a garment and then shipping them off to their new homes – you so often forget about things that you have knitted! Instagram has been good in a lot of ways to go back and remember different things that I’ve made in the past, however I find blogging about it just a wee bit more personal. And I don’t feel like there are these silly rules about how many pictures I can post 😀
You can see the wool (Léttlopi) I used on the Alafoss Website. The main colour is hazel heather and the contrasting colours are beige, black heather, oatmeal heather. I guess I didn’t take too many pictures of the process, so I hope you enjoy the few that I did 🙂
And so, without further ado, here are some photos of my latest handknit sweater (you can read more about the design of this sweater in one of my first posts!).
Off she goes today! I am being swamped at home right now with chores upon chores to do before we catch our flight in Halifax this Friday. I can hardly believe that in a week’s time, we will be driving on the left side of the road and in the country of my ancestors. I have a lot to share with you all before we go and will likely afterwards as well! We have had a lot of rain which has made the PEI country side so lush and wonderful. It’s hard not to be happy in the midst of all the green and warmth! Especially when hiking in the mountains on the other side of the Atlantic is just before us!
I am on the fence currently about bringing any knitting on the trip. For some reason, I am hesitant to bring knitting needles on the plane – I have read that it should be fine, but I remember once I had my knitting in my bag when a friend and myself went on a tour of the Parliament Buildings (just for fun one random afternoon when I lived in Ottawa) and they took my knitting from me and sealed it in a bag! I may go scout out some wooden circular needles tonight (cross fingers that such thing exists in PEI!). I do hope to, we have a 5 hour lay over in St. John’s and a long plane ride which I will be incapable of getting any rest >.<
Anyhow, my family is coming tomorrow to house sit for us and I have SO much to do before! Getting very excited! I may be very stereotypical and post a packing for Ireland blog, if I have time!!!
** It’s now a windy Saturday morning – I wrote this yesterday afternoon with the weather so different than this morning. It’s strange posting a journal like blog post when you feel so incredibly different than the day before – however I’m going to leave it as it is. Today, I feel motivated and happy 🙂 **
I am SO incredibly happy to announce.. that is is 12 degrees Celsius. I can hardly believe it, although it is SO windy. But look where I am writing this to you! The non-insulated sun room! We have all been longing to spend time in here since we closed it up in November. Soon, the windows will be open and plants will illuminate the drafty corners.
So, here I am. Sat before our whole world with a salty ocean air candle and the music of Eternal Tapestry – pondering how to delve into the topic of the 2 simple knits I recently completed and the beautiful act of “slow” living. The wind is demanding attention today, my thoughts are with it since it’s essentially yelling at me while I sit in this room.
This winter/spring has been very slow for me in the creative realm. I have simply been directing my attention to … I can’t even say. Everything gets a little hazy at that point and all I know is that I was way more productive last year. I am taking full advantage of the trendy ‘slow living’ tag I see constantly floating around (although, I find it hypocritical because there is nothing slow about our habitual use of technology and our means for occupying a great deal of our time ~*instagram*~ and showing off our dreamy art of *slow living* but obviously I get where the sentiment comes from – it takes time to knit your own garments, to bake your own bread, to grow your own seeds). In my world right now, I’m not sure if it’s actually a vitamin deficiency or chopping wood or lack of sunshine, but I have been SO tired and fatigued. I feel unbearably guilty about this and need to listen to my intuition which is telling me to listen to my body and take things slow.
And so… it took me weeks, months even to finish the two knits I am sharing with you – a pair of Alpaca double knit lace mittens and a lace stole, using the same lace design. A simple design because I had never attempted lace before but it is easy peasy and if you can do a knit or purl stitch – trust me, you can do lace knitting.
A L P A C A DK M I T T E N S
This wool is the Alpaca “baby wool” from We Are Knitters (I think I wrote that they were angora… angora is just the A fibre word always in my brain since we had an angora rabbit named Bunny growing up). Last year, I received a sweater kit from the company. They give you large 5.5 mm wooden needles and about 12 balls of the wool and a pattern for an item.
I made the whole back of a sweater, the entire time really disliking the needles and feeling like the wool wasn’t right for them. Wondering why I was committing myself to something that was bringing me so little joy from one of my favourite things to do. Anyway, it took a long time to make and I could tell that it was going to be just an awkward, oversized strange sweater that I realistically would never wear because of the colour and weight of the wool. That being said, I have seen others’ version of the sweater and it looks absolutely beautiful – mine just didn’t come close to the other finished gesture sweaters that I have seen on blogs or instagram. ANYWAY – I decided to take the whole back out and salvage the wool instead.
The wool double knit is so incredibly lovely. It’s thick and heavy and oh so soft. The size of these mittens run very very small, so I’m going to make a larger pair of fingerless mitts using two strands of wool as well.
I used 3.25 mm dpn needles and just experimented around. I will have these up too on our Etsy Shop, but keep in mind they run pretty small!
R O W A N A R A N T W E E D S T O L E
Last but not least, this Rowan Aran Tweed Stole. The colour I chose is called “Scree” and one of my all time favourite colours. I have about a month left I think to wear this comfortably but soon all my knits will be shed in turn for my thrifted dresses and some handmade shifts (as well as my very dirty gardening clothes… realistically more so than the dresses :P)
And there you have it! 2 very simple knits, that took me what feels like a year and a day to make. I wanted to just slowly enjoy the feeling of some really beautiful and soft wool and feel like I definitely achieved that goal.
Now with the change of season, I feel like I really need to speed up my activity and growth. Shed my winter skin and become just a little more active.
F I N & A F T E R T H O U G H T S
All in all, I am really happy with the two knits that I shared with you today. I am also not feeling as down on myself for my very slow progress these past few months. My body and mind have been calling for a slow approach to everything in life and I finally obeyed them.
I’d love to hear how you deal with slow, unproductive weeks on end! Or if that even happens to you >.< I am really hoping to blog more and will probably be revisiting Instagram for at least one weekday to see how everyone is doing and share a latest blog or knit or what have you!
** Today, we plan to take Henry to the ocean for a walk (if the dirt roads aren’t too muddy), knitting and watching movies
And it’s back. A foot of snow, freezing temperatures… the chickens refuse to leave the coop and boots full of snow. We can at least take heart that it is technically *spring* and this won’t last. But for now, my nose is running and my feet are damp. I feel like watching The Ken Burn’s documentary about the Civil War and not leaving the couch… eating brownies and drinking peppermint tea. But first, before I succumb to these whims, I thought I would be somewhat productive and share some photos I took the other day while I was preparing for Etsy shipments.
This week, I prepared the folkloric Lopapeysa, A Fairisle pull over and some hand-pressed cards. I have been feeling SO lethargic and just “blah” this past week (I think a combination of the blizzard and monthly times), such little drive to do anything at all. Last week, I baked like 5 different types of bread (2 loaves of french bread, 2 loaves of whole grain, 2 peasant loaves, 12 buns and some naan bread!) and was just on a wild spree of being a productive human being. I even read one of my favourite books, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and picked out some new books to pick up at the library. I felt SO good and happy and this week has just been the exact opposite. I have just been down in the pits or as my girl Anne says, in the depths of despair. Winter melancholia.
But alas, it is sunny and sometimes, it’s so difficult to feel anything but hope and happiness when you are basking in the sun.
P R E P A R I N G
To get out of a funk, I enjoy the creative process of simply packaging up orders. I wanted to share a couple photos with you since I am much better at that than descriptive writing!
I make wrapping paper for the cards, using hand-carved stamps. Last weekend, I bought some red ink for a different look (what do you think?). I really enjoy wrapping up cards and tying them up with string. Simple pleasures that I hope bring a wee bit of happiness to the person that receives them! I stamp the brown paper based on what type of artwork has been purchased, for instance if it is a botanical or fungi print, I make sure it is plant based wrapping paper.
E T S Y O R D E R S
N A T U R A L W O R L D
Jamie and I went on a really beautiful walk in Strathgertney Provincial Park yesterday. Luckily, there was a path to follow made by snow shoes rather than us struggling in our winter boots in the snow. The park is beautiful, with a range of different woodlands, walks along the West River. We only met two other people and were free deep in the woods from the sounds of cars on the nearby highway. I can not wait for the snow to melt and the mud to dry up so we can freely walk in the different beautiful spots on this island.
A NEW WEEK
This week, I am hopeful that the temperatures will rise, that the sun will come out, that we will be free of blizzards and impending storms. My Mom has graciously agreed to come stay with me for the week since Jamie will be going to Ontario for work and I would love company living out in the country during my bluest time of year. For some reason, the “Winter Blues” descends upon me in the beginning of “spring” rather than the winter. I feel very alive and happy in the winter months but March often sees me down.
I see the light though, because April, April is next Saturday! Praise the Gods!
I hope you all enjoy your last week of M A R C H! Bye Legions!
March! Oh March! The month I feel the most conflicted over. Here on the East Coast, it is a time balanced between spring and winter with winter as her favourite. This winter has been inconsistent – a constant tantrum between freeze and thaw. I am so ready for spring, eternal spring. A lasting thaw. March has left me unmotivated, uninspired and lethargic. My fingers are itching to work with plants, with the soil so I have been re-potting the indoor plants and starting some lavender and pumpkin seeds… because I am desperate. My creative world is only now slowly beginning to peak above the sleeping soil, I am ready.
I thought I would start by sharing with you my latest Lopapeysa sweater. I quite honestly made this one blindly without any idea of what would emerge. It’s a result of a deep winter longing for spring. It began during a snow storm in early February. I just wanted to knit and not think about anything, let myself rest with the earth. I started with the sleeves since they are so quick and I enjoy finishing them first. I made just a basic design at the cuffs and used the oatmeal heather since I didn’t think I had enough of the main colour for a whole sweater (planning ahead ;))!
The sleeves took I think about a week to finish, maybe even a little less. It’s strange remembering time frames in the winter, my memory gets hazy and often all I can think is either “that went by so quickly” or obviously, the opposite.
I started the body during a week of storm after storm after storm. We were house bound for around a week and I accomplished a lot during this time! The white landscape inspired me to make a flower based design (perfect sense, right?). I actually had some difficulty with some of my wool – it kept on tearing which drives me absolutely crazy. I was splicing again and again (what are you doing to your wool Istex?).
This sweater went on a small trip with us as well. I made sure the sleeves were attached to the body before we drove to Nova Scotia. We rented a cabin in Cape Breton and then I stayed an extra week at my parents house since my sister was visiting from Toronto. There, I made much of the main design in the yoke – a flower reaching toward the sun. During this time, we had such mild weather. Lisa and I sat on our front steps having our morning tea, basking in the sun and feeling the warm wind from the sea.
Below are some photographs I took of the process. Including my colour inspiration, blocking and my sketchbook! I am planning to put this sweater up on our Etsy shop; however, it won’t be until I have my vlog post ready (if that works out) and get some photographs of it out in the big wide open world rather than just my house. This weekend, the wind is cutting right through our windows and I have no intention of going outside except to check on the chickens (it’s around minus 20). My skin is chapped and I have a chill right in my bones. I’ll be spending the full moon day right by the fire, chapping my skin more but at least my bones will thaw ;).
F I N A L T H O U G H T S
In my head, I was imagining floral designs based loosely on old world Scandinavian embroidery. I didn’t have anything really to model it on so just began to sketch away and make a thistle like design (influenced by my Scottish ancestry and the thistles that abound in the East Coast). I wanted it both delicate and blocky in the yoke. The simplicity actually came from not having enough black wool to make a full detailed yoke! Meaghan gifted me with the rust heather which I am so very grateful for – I love the contrasting colours!
All in all, I am really happy with the final design of this folkloric lopapeysa! It really for me encapsulates this winter – frigid temperatures interspersed with warm thaws – extremities free of stiff wool to flirt with the wind! The promise of spring dangled before us on a string.
T H A N K Y O U & B L E S S E D B E
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and look at the pictures of my latest sweater. It has been around a month and a half in the making.
This morning our clocks sprung forward while the moon waxes for the last time of her cycle. Another turn of the wheel, this time hopefully for a change in season (despite a warning for a blizzard this Wednesday!).
This month was strange in a sense. I feel like the whole world is in chaos and I am merely turned to the fringes – looking to the stars, the moon and the earth. Withdrawing further and further. I’ve always felt that the best form of protest is to rely on yourself and your close community and environment for the necessities in life. This month, I focused on making for the shop, exploring, visiting my family in Nova Scotia and working on a few new things.
M A K I N G
Our seasons have such different impacts on my creative or making world. Each one, I swear, it will be my most productive, most fulfilling season. As soon as Autumn approaches, winter will be the month that I learn that new skill, knit something totally new and time consuming. I imagine myself stuck up in my studio (spare bedroom 😉 and painting blindly, on a diet of tea and well more tea. SO absorbed that I forget to eat. Of course… it never exactly turns out this way :p
Calendula & Lavender Soap
We use the cold soap making process, which includes binding a lye solution* with a fat or oil. The result is, if you ask me – pure magic (or chemistry). When these two meet, saponification (I thought the word soaponification when my mom was teaching me 😉 occurs. The lye and oil mixtures bind together (after a great deal of stirring – we actually use a hand blender) and form the wonderful substance we know to be soap 😀 I think of it being a little like cheese since it must cure for a couple of months before you can actually use it.
My knowledge is limited (I never was very good at chemistry) but I understand the recipe and that it is a really liberating way to live your life. I feel like I am doing something productive AND feel so good using this soap. The recipe we make makes about 36-40 bars.
In this batch – we added the calendula infused oil, dried calendula petals, dried lavender and lavender essential oil. You can really add anything you want. Once, we added cinnamon. My next batch, I want to use ground coffee grinds for after working in the garden. All of it organically grown and dried at home.
My Dad is a wizard when it comes to making. This visit, I worked with him to carve 2 spoons from an old apple tree that fell during a storm. I sadly didn’t take many pictures of the process but they turned out beautifully and I’m so happy with them! I still have to go out to the store to buy some Tung Oil to seal them up, but for now behold what you can do with wood!
One day, I became obsessed with the idea of carving my own spoons for making my herbal tea mixtures. I often find myself just pouring right from the mason jar into my tea filter or I even just put my hands right in there (don’t ask why I didn’t use a spoon I already have..). I wanted to make a spoon to deepen and enhance that connection with the herbs that I drink. I feel like the plants that I grow and dry myself deserve a little extra attention when I’m making a nourishing infusion.
Again, I would like to make a post about the carving process. During one of the wild storms we had in November, one of our old apple trees fell so I am excited about having access to this beautiful hard wood!
I have been drinking a squash smoothie every morning. January I successfully did not have a single cup of coffee and replaced it with green tea and strangely you may think… squash. It’s so delicious though! I have been blending pureed squash from the garden with frozen banana, almond milk, pure maple syrup, nuts and some spices. Look at how beautiful squash is….
K N I T T I N G
This month, I completed a Lopi Sweater for the Etsy shop, 8-10 pairs of Fingerless mittens for the shop and started to knit my rowan tweed aran Stole. I have a lot of work to do preparing the listings for all the new knits and will make a blog post about these while I am making the listings. So much to do this week, eep!
I posted a couple pictures of the stole up on Instagram, but here it is again! I wanted it to look a little bit like a baby blanket. Something pretty but practical. I live in a stole my mom made for me many years ago. I relate to Holden in Catcher in the Rye, my big cozy stole/shawl is his cap. My protector in the form of a sheep’s wool and just a little bit of magic. I will write more about this shawl when I finish in February.
B O O K S & R E A D I N G
Most of you won’t know, but I have a Masters Degree in Library Science. I love to read which is what led me down the path to become a librarian. I enjoy librarianship however, a sequence of events began to point me in another direction. I have accepted it and now embrace a making / artist / homesteading life. A childhood dream that I definitely never thought would be possible!
House of Splendid Isolation by Edna O’Brien (1994)
Okay, so I actually read this in December, but I will include it anyway >.< I am someone who is easily swayed by cover images or titles. The title conveys everything I love in books. An eerily haunted feeling of living somewhere beyond the norm. I could only guess it would have someone looking back at their past, of a life perhaps when the house was full of life. Anyway! it actually did have this very element, but it was so run on and all over the place. I wasn’t even clear who characters were or what was going on. I read chapters while not being clear on literally anything! Sadly, the past recollection was a fail for me. However the present was very interesting. It tells the story of a notorious IRA volunteer who takes refuge in an old manor house and holds the elderly woman (the only remaining resident) “hostage.”
Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (first preformed in 1956)
My grandfather was a theater actor and left us with many classic plays. My favourite that he was in and left us with, is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. I’m determined when I go home, to read at least one of the plays there. This month, I chose the classic Eugene O’Neill play.
A semi-autobiographical play set in a single day of the Tyrone’s family life while they reside at their summer home in sea-side Connecticut. It was very, very good and I suggest it for anyone who loves literature or playwrights.
The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge (1960)
I have NO idea how I ended up reading this book. It was on my Goodreads “to reads” list and I randomly came across it while I was at the library and remembered the name. I’m not sure how it ended up on my list. Anyway, it was a very heartwarming story (such a contrast to the former) about the relationships of a group of unexpected misfits in Victorian England. I really enjoyed it.
I’m currently reading Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and a graphic novel about Tetris. Desperately need to go to the library! This week, I will take out a couple of new books.
N A T U R E & E X P L O R I N G
Since I went to Nova Scotia for 2 weeks, I spent a lot of time outdoors. More than normal for this time of year since the weather was so mild and pleasant. Usually, I cross-country ski when I’m out there but this year was strange. We didn’t have enough snow to ski so I was walking in the woods. Since it was so nice out, I had several fires with the trees, having tea and just sitting watching the smoke and listening to the wind.
An old friend of mine and I drove out one day to Tor Bay Provincial Park and up around Cape George. It is so beautiful, the ocean is so powerful and Nova Scotia just always takes me breath away. When Jamie came out to the house, we also drove out to Tor Bay. It’s a special, special beach with rocks that look like beached whales and white sand.
A R T
February will bring more art… this is what I tell myself. I will be locked away working fervently ; )
T U R N of the W H E E L
Today is Imbolc, The first of February. The beginning of spring in Ireland and the half way mark here in Canada 😉 We have a lot planned for the month with visits and hiking. I have a lot to do with our etsy shop that I hope to have ready by the weekend. Thank you so much for taking the time, even if it’s just to look through the photos (I know a lot of writing can be daunting and annoying sometime).
*lye (sodium hydroxide) is VERY caustic so its’s very important to have supplies that are strictly for soap making and wear protective gear. It’s also important to keep any pets away from the area that you work and have a window open for air flow! Once you get over the ‘scary’ aspect of lye, you will enter the very exciting world of making your own soap and no longer relying on the harsh soaps of the divorced from nature world!
This week, the Pangur Bán sweater will be bound up with twine, placed in a cloth hand-sewn bag and shipped to Germany. Across the Atlantic Ocean, leaving behind its humble beginning on Prince Edward Island.
This original sweater was made during the summer of 2016 using Létt-Lopi that I purchase online at Alafoss. What you may ask is LOPI? Lopi is the term for Icelandic Sheep’s wool. Icelandic Sheep are very beautiful animals that are direct descendants of the first settler’s sheep brought from Norway in the 9th and 10th Century! How neat is that! They sport a unique dual layered fleece, which helps to protect the sheep and keep them dry and warm (aww). I grew up with little Lopi sweaters that my mom knit, however they were infinitely bulkier than the sweaters made with Létt-Lopi. The Létt means “light” and is actually half the weight of the old Alafoss Lopi. It creates a garment that is.. well.. light and delicate, yet hardy all the same. I don’t think it really needs stating that I love this wool… the colours, the texture the end result! It’s so perfect ❤
Anyway! This sweater saw her beginning on a ferry crossing the North Atlantic from Sydney, NS to Argentia, Newfoundland. I purposefully started the sweater just before the trip so I could work on it during the 16 hour ferry ride and long car rides crossing the province. I packed very little on this trip, some clothes suitable for camping and a backpack for my cotton wool bag (filled to the brim with wool!) so I could work on the body of the sweater and mittens for market. This suited me well until our car troubles began… and our stay was extended 5 extra days in a campsite with no drinking water or transportation (I may have been cursing my bag full of wool at that point :P…).
No worries though, both Rachel and I returned unharmed in Nova Scotia with a new found knowledge of Mechanics and Garages (who knows what you may learn when you go on a trip!). Also of course, a love for that giant, wild province out in the Atlantic ocean.
The sweater, as you can imagine was put on hold during our trip. I think I managed to complete most of the body while I was away but the rest was completed on PEI. My intention was to display the sweater at the Etsy Made in Canada Market which was at the end of September. I had about a month before I could complete not only a sweater but other items for our market table. And so I got to work…
My pattern for the yoke was not really set in stone. I didn’t write anything out. I actually just kept tabs on when to do my decreases and what made sense with the decreases and the pattern. This is the first time I actually hadn’t even drawn out a chart. This is how I knit my mittens, from memory and without a chart, so I felt like I could do a yoke too. I was really uncertain about how this one would turn out, but I trust the elves that they will look after me 😉 My vision was that it would be similar to the old style lopapeysur so my whole intention was to keep it simple, focusing on the diamonds and triangular mountain peaks (I tried to search for pictures of vintage Icelandic sweaters and came up with our sweaters… not quite google, not quite).
Messe [ocus] Pangur bán
And there you have it! My completed Pangur Bán sweater. It’s my more subtle take (with a lighter more flexible wool) on the 1970s/1980s designs. It is also a much closer fit than the older lopapeysur, but that also is due to the nature of the wool.
You may have questions about the name, which I am more than happy to answer! My cat’s name is Pangur Bán. His namesake is an Irish poem written in the margins of a manuscript in the 9th century. The author was an Irish monk, living in Austria at the time. He penned a poem detailing how his cat Pangur Bán (meaning literally something along the lines of “white fuller”) and him are quite alike in how they work, silently side by side while he searches for knowledge, Pangur diligently hunts mice. It’s a beautiful little poem. But why did I name the sweater after my cat/9th century Irish poem? Well, when I chose to use the gold as a contrasting colour, Pangur actually jumped up beside me looking for pets and I was struck by how similar the two were! A good friend of mine pointed out the similarities as well and I thought it would be the perfect name 🙂 I suppose you could also say that we worked silently side by side, however he is a terrible mouser and I am binge watching Tales from the Green Valley or Tudor Farm.
Lastly, I want to share with you the sweater all bundled up in our handmade packaging. Creating packaging for knit goods has taken us years. We have finally created handmade cotton drawstring bags to allow the wool garment to breath and just offer a unique little detail when receiving a specially made sweater. This was always on our “to-do” list but both Meaghan and I were busy as Masters students when we started this shop and then lived in different provinces. As you can imagine, it was difficult to get those details ironed out and put into action. I also often wrap things up as well in my hand-carved stamped, brown paper but the sweaters are now sent in bags.
making little lavender sachet for the journey, with handpicked lavender from our garden (showcased on my hand-stamped paper)
The sweater, bound in twine with a thank you card I illustrated based on a Grimms Fairy Tale
I always feel a little withdrawal when I finish a project that I have put quite a bit of time and thought into. So I look to future knits so I can be a happy house elf.
ARAN PULLOVER: Using leftover yarn (only 20 per cent wool) from last year. I’m planning to just make up a combinations of cables and have it loose fitting.
ARAN STOLE: I’ve been dreaming about making a thick, earthy cable-knit stole/shawl/scarf (whatever you want to call it). In the winter, I basically live in a lace stole that my mom made for me several years ago, so I’d love to have another one to give my lace a break. If anyone has any suggestions for wool (looking for aran weight, pretty durable and earthy… I hope that makes sense), please let me know!
ARAN SOCKS: a couple of months ago, I bought a vintage sock yarn that is Oh so nice. It would be perfect for one small, cute pair of aran socks. Now, I just need a pattern. If anyone knows of any small, aran sock patterns please let me know! I’m hoping to do a love knitting order soon, so if I need new needles for these I can get them then 🙂
LOPAPEYSA: I don’t know if I need to even add this, but of course I have some in mind and have already ordered wool. I have joined my sister to make some custom order ones again so I will be making my Winter Woodland in Ash for a customer as well as 2 more this winter that will likely have original designs and then be put up on the Etsy (wait until you see the colours!!)
And of course, I am making mittens, etc. while I wait for wool orders and find out where my mind is before I can start making. Can you tell I have a preference for Aran and Icelandic knitting…. 😀
I hope you enjoyed this post, please send me a message or leave a comment if you have any questions!
*Title of blog post is taken from Robin Flower’s English translation of Pangur Bán