Saturday, May 31, 2008

While doing the dishes....

In the course of a family discussion the subject of pregnancy came up. This brought up the Duggar family, who on Mothers' Day made public that they were pregnant with their 18th child.

Mira: Do they belong to some special religion?

Papa: Yes, but I forget what it's called.

Mira: Is it "mouseism" or "bunnyrabbitism"?

Friday, May 30, 2008


Gotta love them!

Mom got the kids bubble wands for Easter.

Including a really huge one.

That makes really really big bubbles!
Mira had fun and Nicole was entertained for hours.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Am I Really Done?

On a craftily note, the stole is done.

Finally! I am quite pleased with the finished product. It is 85 inches long not including the fringe. The man that commissioned it wanted me to embroider the recipients initials and the year at the back of the neck. Embroidery is not my strong point, but I think I did a passable job.
The cross is worked in pick up technique where I only put the green pattern threads where I want them to be.
The pattern is an overshot name draft for the phrase "A Father's Love". This is the front of the pattern.
And here is the back.

I have to admit that all of the grief I suffered makes me really want to think twice before taking on another commission. In my general craftily practice, if I make a scarf too short, it is because I made two other ones too long ( I generally weave three scarves on each warp) and I don't worry because some people like short scarves. It baffles me that someone should like a short scarf, but then again, who am I to dictate peoples tastes. But during commissions, the person has asked for something specific. And I am such a person that if I mess up (as I did with the shorter stole) then I feel that it is not right for someone else to pay for my mistakes. I feel the need to eat them, so to speak. So with this commission, I am billing for 16 hours and 40 minutes when my actual time is closer to 26 hours. Not to mention the nights sleep that I lost when I realized that the stole that I cut off was way too short. This makes me really want to think long and hard before taking on another commission in something that is not my usual area. If for example, someone wanted a green hand spun scarf, I could accurately tell them how much it would cost (and not be cheating myself) because this is something that I know how much time and materials are involved in creating a finished product.

Does anyone have any advice or tips (besides "don't make mistakes")?

Excuse Me?

I wasn't here. I really don't know what happened. I don't know how it got started, but I do know that Mira was the ring leader. And after the display of how her mind works (aren't you glad you are not a bird?) I guess that I am not surprised. I almost feel sorry for people with "normal" children.

To make a long story short, I come home and Mira has created something new. "I'm calling it 'poo-ding'" she says with a wicked grin. "I'm going to see if Liam will eat it"

I asked what was in it and she said that it was pretty much the same thing that was in the custard pie that she made last week, just not measured. And she put it in a baggie and put it in the fridge to have it firm up so that she could cut the corner off of the bag so that she could form it and make it look.....well, let's just not go there.

But Liam look excited by it.
He even liked the taste of it. We don't call him "Snack Snack Sugar Lips" for nothing!

Post Cards from the Selv-edge

It's time for another instalment of Post Cards from the Selv-edge.

Today's entry is called "can you spot the difference?"
Besides the obvious one of the changed background. The top background is the fuzzy blanket that was on my bed for most of the winter. Now it is warm enough to do without it and rather than haul it out just to take the after photo, I found an empty flat surface.
The thing that we all need to remember when working on these postcards is that they are ultimately going to go through the hands of 14 people so I never want to put too much on any one. I hummed and hawed for quite a while before throwing my towel into the ring so to speak.

A very subtle change, but I like it. I can hardly wait to see the finished pieces!

Monday, May 26, 2008

H is for.....


We all need to laugh. And some people make it easier to laugh. A lot of times Mira is one of those people. On the weekend we watched "How to Eat Fried Worms" in which there was a part where a girl was teaching a 5 year old boy a song about birds. One line went something like "One little bird fell out of the nest, when a cat ate him up his mama said "it's for the best". This encouraged her to make up her own song.

We shall call it "Black Humor" and you can call yourself forewarned.

I'm So Glad I'm Not a Bird
by Mira

One little crow by the side of the road, pecking at a roadkill lunch.
He was slow to fly, so when a truck came by, all his little birdie bones went crunch.

A robin didn't know there were window panes ahead
So he crushed his little birdie skull, the windows killed him dead.

A sparrow ducked a car to avoid becoming pulp
but was spotted by an eagle and was eaten, GULP.

A swallow flew along the road, a stupid thing to do,
The traffic was quite heavy, he didn't think it through

He didn't know a moving truck was coming up the hill
Wow! Look at all the feathers in that truck's front grill.

A grouse was eaten by a fox, and now he's "you know what"
Those little round brown balls that come out of a fox's butt.

A kitty ate a finch and now he's pussy poo
I'm so glad I'm not a birdie, aren't you?

By the way, don't ask me what is happening in that first picture. It was on the camera when I downloaded some photos.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gardening and Weaving

Today, I had to finish off my priest stole and at the same time the garden needed to be dealt with. I tootled off to the school and Bill took all the kids on a bike ride to farm where the garden is. Apparently Mira was of great help, Simon killed lily beetles with a magnifying glass while Nicole watched, and Liam took a very long time to dump the weeds, get a drink, check on the progress of the lily beetle slaughter.

Here is the garden all tilled and with the carpets put back on. The plants at the near end are strawberries. Yummy!
And at the other end is the rhubarb. I might actually try and make rhubarb jam this year. And then there is the favorite, Rhubarb Crisp. It is just like Apple Crisp but with, you guessed it! Rhubarb! When rhubarb comes on, it is usually pretty fast and furious. Kind of like zucchini for those of you who garden. You know who you are and you know what I mean. During zucchini season, you know who your friends are, They are the ones who DON'T bring you zucchini that, with only slight modification, could take you down the Amazon river.

But I missed all of the excitement at the garden this year. That is OK. There is still planting to do. And weeding. And more planting. And more weeding. And.... well, you get the picture.

And now we are onto the saga of the priest stole. A man contacted me about 6 weeks ago to see if I was interested in weaving a stole for a friend of his that was being ordained as a priest at the end of April. I was intrigued by the thought and decided that I would take the commission. We met a couple of times and discussed ideas and possibilities and finally came to a conclusion. I wanted to be finished by May 15. Just in case. You know how life is. Sometimes unexpected things happen. I was really thinking that I might get the flu or something much more mundane.

But no.

It was warm.

It rained.

And the river rose.

And we were locked out of the school for two weeks. That really threw a monkey wrench into the works. I knew that I was going to be late for my own self imposed deadline. Stuart had said that he didn't need the stole until the 29th of May. Thankfully. But I had that date of the 15th stuck firmly in my mind and I was going to try and keep to it. Around this time, I was also battling insomnia. And those of you who have faced this particular foe know that insomnia can make you work stupid. And so it was with me. I made a mock stole out of paper and sketched out the pattern. And then took it for gospel. I wasn't sure how long the cross would be and so guessed and, in the end, was off about 6 inches. My first stole ended up being about 12 inches too short.

This was definitely a case of "The hurriered you go the behinder you get" or "measure three times, cut once".

After discussing the problem with Stuart, I decided that I had to make a longer one. Even if he was willing to settle for the shorter one, I was not. I finished weaving it this afternoon. I almost made another fatal mistake along the way. The pattern was basically some plain weave, a border in overshot, a bit more plain weave, a cross in overshot, another bit of plain weave, another border in overshot, and then the large central part in plain weave, and then repeated in the reverse to make it a mirror image. My mistake was when I hit the second cross. For those of you who are weavers, if you are going to weave something in mirror image, when you hit the central point, you need to reverse everything. Which in my case meant I would have to weave the second cross upside down. I had no problem with this part while doing the first, shorter stole. But this time, I was a bit tired and had been weaving for about three hours and had the end in sight. I automatically started to weave the cross the way that I am used to seeing it. When I was just about to weave the cross bar, I realised my mistake, bellowed quite loudly, and sighing, unwove the last two and a half inches. After that, everything went well and I was able to finish.

I have to say that I am going to think twice before taking a commission again.

It is dark now and the stole is wet (having just been washed) so I will try and get pictures tomorrow.


Yes, I know how I spelled that. And it's what I meant to say. Yesterday was the Graduation Ceremony for the College. There were 27 graduates (and I will admit that that is a smaller than usual number). Two were from the Fiber Arts department. So I would like to say congratulations to Bronwyn and Paula (or Pippi as we call her)!

Pippi is off to BC to study Environmental Studies at UVic. And Bronwyn shall be back next year to take advanced studies.

And I had been feeling unwell and forgot my camera. The ceremony was very nice and I wished that I had brought some kleenex. An address to the graduates was given by a teacher who had been in a very bad car accident in their first year. He had given them an assignment to do a Jackson Pollock type painting and wasn't able to collect it the next week. Two months later, on his first trip out of the hospital, the staff and students arranged an exhibition of the paintings. He was very touched by show of support and had a hard time keeping his emotions under control. So did the rest of us.

The other portion of the ceremony that had people crying was a slide show tribute to a student that had died in a car accident out west last fall. Jenna Sullivan was a beautiful young woman and she died far too soon. I can't imagine that there was a dry eye in the house.

But it wasn't all sad. The valedictorian address was funny in that the two young men who gave it played well off of each other and fully admitted that they had gotten together the night before to hammer out their speech. There were a few times when it showed. It was a joy to see such great young people launching themselves into the world. I know that they can do great things.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You Like Bouncy Bouncy?

Something decidedly odd and rather large has bloomed in my garden.
Mom picked out a trampoline courtesy of the cows.
I went out the other day and the kids were all in it with some pillows and a couple of blankets, some books and drawing papers. They called it their outdoor living room.
Mira is very excited by the new trampoline.
And for those of you who will tell my that such things are dangerous, I know and I have drilled the safety procedures into their heads until they ran out their ears. Liam of course, questions every last rule looking for loopholes.
He will find none.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stitch Marker Exchange

I am part of a wee little swap called the Stitch Marker Exchange. The only thing that you have to send to your partners are 5 stitch markers and you can have as many partners as you want. It is up to you if you want to send anything extra.
I sent out my markers at the beginning of May and have just received my first set of markers back.

These are from Lynda. Along with the markers were coffee and some chocolate. My boy Liam aw the chocolate and immediately wanted to "share". Ha!

The flash washed the markers out a bit so I took them outside to the natural light so that we could see their beauty.
Thanks Lynda! I love them!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

String Theory

Welcome to String Theory. The year end fiber arts show at The Gallery.

Denise had three sections for her felting class this year. One was the full time fiber arts students and the two others sections were students from other studios who chose to take felting as an elective.
Denise had them do two major projects based around the different techniques that she taught them. The first was "ethnographic samples". The students were required to come up with a symbol that meant something to them and, using different techniques covered in class, make three different personal symbols. Bellow are the best of the 17 students that took the felting class. From left to right their symbols are Paisley, Wheat, Blossom, Eye of Horus, Honey.
And then there was Katie. Katie is an over achiever and we are so thrilled to have her in our program. She finishes her assigned projects early and then puts on other project to do in her "spare time". We really really really like students like Katie. She also came and helped us to set up the show. And if any of you have ever had anything to do with setting up a show in a gallery, you know how helpful a spare set of hands can be. I could have the random thought of "ARGH! I didn't put the table clothes for the food table in the dryer!" and ask her to do it, and she would. Ahhh.

Katie's symbol was "Comet".

The first year students also made blankets. There were four full time students and one part time student. Left is Rosie and right is Christine.

Left is Celine, and right is Katie. And in the foreground is Keith. Keith is our part time student. Keith was a prosecutor for the provincial government before he retired. He became interested in genealogy and while researching his family tree discovered that his family was from Scotland and not from Ireland as his grandmother has insisted. But as he said "No one dared to contradict Granny". In any case, he decided to design a family tartan and have it registered with the tartan authority in Scotland, but he needed a sample of fabric. And upon having a hard time finding someone to weave his tartan for him, he decided to weave it himself. He designed both a dress and a hunting tartan and they have been accepted by the Tartan Authority in Scotland. He has also decided the he likes weaving and I have been coaxing him to come back next fall to take second year weaving.

The first years also did a section in tapestry. Here are some of their results. I had brought in a small tapestry that I did of a drawing that Mira did when she was about 5 to show the students an example of a small tapestry. I left it in the office and unknown to me it was included. It is the rooster on the far left.

There was also an elective book binding class and many people decided to take this also. There were many different types of books that were explored and the diversity was amazing.

Here are a few more.
The second major project that Denise the Felting Queen had her students do was boots. The students worked about five weeks on their boots. They were encouraged to really play with the idea of footwear. The first are the best of the best.

And here are some of the others. Not every one's boot made it into the show. They were all told that it was a juried show and that only the best would be shown.
Stacey is a graduate from last year that came back for advanced studies. Next year she is off to NSCAD to further her education. I will miss her dearly. She has such wonderful ideas and works mostly with wire embellished with other materials. She had a show of her work last year along with another graduating student and her work really pushed the boundaries. I will watch her career with great interest.
When you get close to the mask and look in the eye, this is what you see....

Next are some complex weave scarves by the third years. If anyone would like to see the details, just ask. I didn't want to post too many photos in one post.

Pippi (called Paula by her mom) was a true victim of the flood. She was working feverishly away on her tapestry of the world when we were locked out of the school for almost two weeks. There was no way that she would be able to finish her tapestry in less than two days to have it ready in time for the opening. Then Micheal, our new director, posed the question "Why don't we just bring the whole loom down to the gallery and present it as a work in progress?" Why not indeed!
Here is a detail. All of the yarns are dyed by Pip with natural dyes and most of the ocean is hand spun as well. If I had several thousand dollars hanging around, I would buy this from her when she was finished it. It is truly a work of art.

Congratulations to all of the students! You all make me proud!

Note: The show is at The Gallery at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design at 457 Queen Street In Fredericton New Brunswick.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Mom left a comment after "A View from the farm" detailing what has been done and what is left.

Here it is

Well folks, the clean up at the farm is coming along just fine. We have the milk house, the office, the bathroom, the milking parlor, the cow bedding area, the little calves area, the bigger calf area, the dry cows area ( the cows that are waiting to give birth) all cleaned up and sanitized with hydrated lime and today the area for the heifers was cleaned and now we are letting it dry so we can apply the lime to sanitize. There is still a lot of other spring clean up that is needed to be done around the farm but it will be done when the time comes. Next we have to clean the drift wood and debris from the fields but the water is still in the fields in the lower ends.

We need to get rid of years of accumulation of junk and are going to get a big dumpster.

Sunday afternoon we worked on the back flower bed where all the drift wood and debris was dumped and will finish it tomorrow.

We are taking it one day at a time and feel no different than before the flood. Life is too short to worry about these little inconveniences that life throw at us to see if we are getting the message or not of what is important in our lives.

In my ceramic shop I have about 3500 molds and two third have been under water, my two kilns, my pouring table, pouring machine, reclaimer and paints, glazes, drawers after drawers full of electrical supplies, etc., etc. I have not yet had time to sort things out from my ceramic supplies that had water damage.

Molds will have to be dried and examine when the time permits and the clean up begins. It will be a bit awkward as molds takes a lot of space. The discards will have to be smashed so they will not take so much room in the dumpster as each molds are hollow in the center. A wet mold weigh an awful lot more than a dry mold. Soon it will be all behind us and we will feel a bit lighter for getting rid of an awful lot of stuff that we REALLY DON'T NEED ANYWAY.


As for myself, I started back at work today. I spent the morning scraping clay goo off the floor of the clay mixing room (Students can either buy premixed clay, or mix up their own using various clay powders.) Things were left to dry with industrial dehumidifers and large fans while I went to help start putting the store back together. Today a lot of the shelves get put back up and the things put back on them. I think that that is where I will be for most of the day. At least it will be clean.

Today is also the day that our studio starts setting up for the gallery show that was suppose to open last Thursday. It is going to feature work from all classes in the Fiber Arts studio. The opening is Thursday from 4:30 till 6:30 at The Gallery which is located in the college. Stop by if you like!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A view from the farm

Mom sent me a few pictures so I thought that I would share them with you.
This is during the flood. The little shed is where she stores gardening supplies and other thing that she doesn't want in the house. She said that she hasn't even looked inside yet.
Here is some of her flowerbeds. This is in the high part of the yard.

And this is the garden and part of the driveway. the road along the river runs between the hedge on the left and the bush on the right.
This is a view of the farm from the second story of their house.

This is her basement. Mom has/had a ceramic shop in the basement. The bottom dropped out of the ceramic business a few years ago, and mom got sick so she really hasn't been doing a lot down there in the past few years. But the kiln was still good (you can see the lid of the kiln just behind the door. They moved all of the molds and whatnot up to above 2 feet expecting that much water in the basement. But as you can see, it wasn't enough.

And some aftermath shots.
This is some of my brothers stuff that he stored at the barn.

Here is water still in the milking parlour. Mom said that after the last milking, the sewers were full of water and so they just scraped what they could of what the cows deposited that milking, into a pile where it dried.
A note on milking parlours for those of you who have never seen one. The image of a maid sitting on a milking stool is one of those things that is way in the past. There are probably some people that milk their one or two cows by hand, but not in my family. Some of dad's "girls" can produce up to 40 litres of milk a day. They get milked twice a day and there are some 70 cows that need to be milked. The modern milking machines work with suction. The silver tubes that you see hanging down in groups of four are attached to the cow's teats. While they are hanging down, there is no suction. When the get turned up and attached to a teat, they start sucking. In our set up there are 8 cows that are getting milked at any one time and in order to save the farmer from a lot of bending and stooping, the place where the farmer stands is lower than where the cow stands. And that place is full of flood waters.

Water level on the milk storage tank.

Here is a view of mom's garden. The soil used to be about 6 inches above the level of the grass. Now it is about 6 inches below. Those are leeks that mom left in the garden last fall. Their roots are now showing.

A couple of years ago, mom and dad had a new well drilled. The currents eroded the soil away from the well cap. Thankfully the water did not reach the top of the well. If it had of, the well would have been contaminated.

One of mom's perennial beds. Her day lilies had a lot of the soil from around their roots eroded away. You can see part of where the soil from the garden went to in the upper left. There is a sand bar across mom's lawn.

Gravel from the end of the garden where the well was dug.

One of her compost bins that wasn't fastened to the ground.

It ended up in the hedge along with a lot of other debris.
Wooden swings and yet more debris sitting on one of mom's large flower beds. You can also see part of the sand bar.

What a mess.