Monday, January 3, 2011


This is the time of year that bloggers get all introspective and philosophical about the past year and their goals and plans for the coming year....

One more down - bring on the next.

2010 feels like it was rather short on creativity for me.

Well, it is a little hard to follow two years of designing and building our own house, (Which, by the way is still not completely finished) but I feel like last year was quite sloth-like.

Oh wait, there was that fun little thing I did outside.... the front yard, that was it. I landscaped our front yard. A little creativity went into that - I hope. (the way I creatively veered from the landscape architect's plan 'just a little bit') That deserves a post of its own, I have lots and lots of pictures.

For now, mostly just to remind myself that I really did do something last year, here's a few random things that I made:

A picture
to hang on the wall.
Bit of a departure for me.

I call it an accidental landscape.

I really liked the way this sheet of clay turned out so tried to do something that didn't involve chopping it up and making beads or boxes or whatevers out of it.

I was going to mount it on a canvas and frame it but couldn't bring myself to cut off the edges. They're the most interesting part of it IMO. So I built a clay frame and let the edges drape, or rather flop, over the edges.

After I had shown it off at my guild meeting, pronounced it finished and hung it on the wall I realized it's not quite finished yet. I think it needs something growing out of that rock-like bit in front. We'll see what happens. (maybe something'll grow by itself if I wait long enough - hmm too much time in the garden Jem)

A planter (sort of)

Here's what you do when you're given a lovely Peace Lily but don't want to look at the ugly plastic pot it came in and it doesn't need re-potting yet, and/or you don't have a nicer pot, and/or you're just too lazy to re-pot it.
You make a polymer clay 'plant sleeve'. That's right, it doesn't have a bottom, no real function at all except decorative.
And I don't have to re-pot it, at least until it gets completely root-bound.

A tumbler.
I had a chance to try something new at our open house at work this November. I actually made this!:
Although I do refer to it as "the tumbler that Liz & Mitch & Malcom made with me sitting on the bench getting in their way" here's proof that I did have some hand in it's creation
(Note to my Mom: you can click on any of these pictures to see them bigger - don't worry she is NOT touching that molten glass with her bare hand - it's a photograhic trick only.)

This is what that bucket of water is really for: cooling off scorched fingers when you stubbornly do exactly what you have been adamantly warned NOT to do.

Many thanks to Liz and Mitch and a big hug to my friend Deb Groom for taking all the glass-blowing pictures.

And don't worry, the glass-blowing was a one-time thing. I'm not taking up any more hobbies.
(uh-oh I just put that in writing, didn't I?)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knit one...

While my studio table seems to have become a repository of everyone's stuff-that-doesn't -have-an-official-home (I confess, most of it's mine) I've been indulging in other creative pursuits (AKA things to keep my hands busy while lounging in front of the TV so I don't destroy my cuticles with that horrible habit I've developed lately.) (New Year's resolution #1?)
Fortunately my knitting has resulted in a few nice gifts so it also helped the Christmas budget... theoretically...
that is it would have if I wasn't so easily seduced by all the gorgeous (read "expensive") yarns in our local specialty yarn shop. Wool & Wicker, right in the middle of Steveston Village, just to warn you so you can stay away if you're as weak as I am - it's a very dangerous place.

It all started with the desire to knit a nice scarf for my MIL for her birthday.
I'm quite a few years behind the times so I jumped on the 'striped Noro scarf' bandwagon' long after it had passed. I saw it on the Yarn Harlot blog so it had to be good.
Noro's Silk Garden is a yummy Japanese silk & mohair blend yarn that changes colours as you knit. If you alternate rows between two balls you get a wonderful stripe that is addictive to knit. All the colours are to die for and I recommend just closing your eyes & grabbing a couple of balls or you'll lose hours out of your day trying to choose.
I don't have a picture of my Mother-in-Law's scarf but it was the most beautiful jewel-tones and I was hooked.

That day that it snowed (you know you live in Vancouver when you can say that & everyone else knows which day you're talking about) I found myself unable to get to work within a reasonable time so took the day off and stopped to visit my Mom on my way home.
I was raving to her about the lovely scarf I had just finished: how much fun it was to knit and how I'd love to knit one for myself but with Christmas coming I couldn't justify spending that much on myself. Especially since I would like a nice long one that would take 4 balls of that rather pricey Noro.

Mom took out her wallet, handed me some cash and said " here, go knit yourself a Christmas present."
I was thrilled and, after finally escaping from the Silk Garden colour-choice black hole, went right home & started knitting.
The phone rang shortly after. Mom calling to apologize. She realized after I left that she got her math wrong & had only given me enough to buy 2 balls of yarn.
I told her not to worry, being given the money for 2 balls was enough of an excuse for me to splurge on the other 2.
She said "But it's bad enough that I'm making you make your own gift without making you pay for half of it!"

Here is the finished product in all it's glory. Thanks Mom!

To be honest I'm not as thrilled about the colours as I could be. I was drawn to the colourways that were predominantly greens and black but I'm not too crazy about those pale pinks and salmon bits that were hiding inside the ball.
Oh well, that's what's exciting about knitting with this yarn - it's always a surprise.
It hasn't been blocked yet so it's a little skinnier than it will be. Although it remains to be seen if I get it blocked before I wear it out. Or get tired of it and unravel it to knit something new.
These colours might look better in a non-striped something.
Like maybe one of these lovelies.....
This scarf is also unblocked but I have incentive to do it soon because it's destined to be a birthday gift - along with that trio of skinny bangles.
Here's a preview of what it'll look like blocked.
The yarn is a beautiful hand-painted sock yarn I bought at the summer market in Whistler a few years ago.
The woman I bought it from takes pictures around Whistler, then uses her photos as inspiration for the colourways of her yarns.
This one is called "Thimbleberry". In my scarf shots the colour is a little washed out but this pic of the yarn is much more accurate.
I like to include the yarn label with the finished product when I use a special yarn like this but I can't find this one. At least she can see a picture of it.
The Thimbleberry scarf was inspired by a sample I saw in that aforementioned evil yarn shop. I escaped without opening my wallet (that time), went home to my trusty "Vogue Knitting" book, found the instructions for the 'seafoam' stitch and made use of that sock yarn that I still had because I was having serious doubts about anyone needing socks the colour of thimbleberries.
Much more appropriate as a scarf.

Among the 'gifted before they were photographed' items were a matching pair of incredibly soft "baby alpaca" simple single-rib toques that I hope are keeping my In-Laws' ears toasty warm on their winter tramps through their new neighbourhood parks.

I'm considering starting some socks as I received some good feedback on some of the ones I gave away a few years ago when I was on that big sock-knitting jag. Still have two neglected pairs that only need the toes sewn up. Some for me this time? (Resolution #2 - sew up sock toes while it's still cool enough to wear socks)

Still on knitting, I took a big leap of faith today and bought enough yarn (at Michael's, on sale; I'm being responsible) to knit myself a very cute lacy cotton cardigan. As it's been many years since I've committed myself to anything larger than a pair of socks I figure that my timing is probably pretty good for me to have it finished in the right season for wearing.

As for that scary picture of my workspace up there, I'm happy to report that that's what it looked like yesterday and I have made considerable progress since then.

Enough that I'm heading up there right now to have a little clay-time before knit-time, before bed-time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christmas Victory

Against the odds, this year I finally got my way when we picked out our Christmas tree.
And it only took 20 years.

Kim and the boys have always liked a big, thick cultured tree. You know, the puff-ball hedge-like ones with branches so thick and close together that the ornaments lay limply all over it, rather than swinging gracefully from the branches. They've always turned their noses up at the natural, un-butchered kind with long thin branches and lots of room for tucking presents and ornaments in against the trunk. "Those are Charlie Brown trees." As if that's a bad thing.
Every year they got their way. Not because they can all out-arm-wrestle me (which they can, even when they were pre-schoolers) but because it's always been 3 against 1.

This year Kim & I went tree-shopping alone and Kim must have been in a charitable mood because he didn't even hesitate when I hopefully pointed to a tall 'natural douglas fir' and said what about this one? Or maybe it was because it was a good 3 feet taller and 1/3 the price of the cultured ones he gravitates to. And we have a vaulted ceiling that fits a 9' tree. Anyway, I got my tree this year, but boy, did I pay for it.

I have to admit, it didn't look like much when we first set it up but I remained optimistic, trying in vain to convince my family that it would look good once the branches relaxed and we got it decorated.
Cole showed his diplomatic potential: "no offense Mom but that tree looks like crap."
As we decorated it, Shea, my tree-trimming partner, grudgingly admitted that he "could see the appeal of a tree like this." Not that he actually liked it, but he could see how some people might. He's a very empathetic fellow, my Shea.
I like it, especially with a Grandma in front of it, lots of presents underneath, family gathered around and the smell of Christmas brunch in the air.

And I think my boys have come around to appreciating its quirky beauty.
Although I suspect we'll be back to a fluffy cultured one next year.

I hope everyone had a Christmas as wonderful, warm and family-filled as mine was.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Instant Gratification

It's been along time but I'm finally finding some time to spend in my studio.

Don't have a lot of time (or is it merely patience I'm lacking? I have the same problem with knitting: drowning in hand-knit dishcloths but not a sweater in sight.) so I've been making some very quick-&-easy bangles. It feels great to use up some of my scrap clay and patterned sheet stashes.
Pretty soon I may even have to resort to ripping the wrapper off a new block of clay.

Aside from the instant gratification bangles I also have one or two artsy-fartsy large-ish projects in the works. They're still in the "lets try this to see what happens" stage so no pics yet. (if ever) Adding to my box of things-that-didn't-quite work.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Hi Interwebs, did you miss me?
It takes more than one reason to keep me off the computer for this long and here's my list of excuses:

1. Kim, my audiophile husband has been researching, buying & selling stereo stuff (don't ask me, I don't even want to know) so he's been hogging the computer and I haven't bothered shoving him off because....

2. I buggered up my shoulder (again) and it's really aggravated by our computer set-up here so I'm trying to limit my home-computer time. Shoulder was, and keeps getting, hurt by all the digging, raking, & hauling around of dirt because...

3. We've been spending all our spare time landscaping our front yard. Took a couple weekends of shopping to find and buy some very pretty trees that should be big enough to satisfy the city's requirement as replacements for the ones we cut down to make room for our house. Now the top-soil's on and shaped, trees are planted and I've been shopping, shopping, shopping for plants (I've been shopping for plant bargains since January) and our courtyard looks like I'm opening up my own nursery. No lawn for us so we need a lot of plants. I've been having fun re-arranging all the pots, designing the layout and now can't wait for a free, rain-less day to put the plants in the ground. Which can't happen tomorrow because...

4. I'm working again you know, at a job, every day almost. And am still trying to re-adjust my after-work schedule to fit in everything that used to take me all day long. And the gardening won't happen this Saturday because...

5. It's the start of our annual birthday frenzy: 6 birthdays in 6 weeks. Plus a wedding reception to attend and Mother's day's in there too. Cole's is the first. My baby's going to be an adult. 18 years old.

6. But the main reason, the biggest time-sucker-upper in my life is of course:
We have SIX five-week-old kittens. 6 master escape-artists; 6 bundles of non-stop entertainment; 6 always-hungry eating machines; 6 mess-makers that need to be constantly cleaned up after because they're just learning you know and if they have one paw in the litter box when they do their thing they think they've done real good.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kittens, Kittens, Kittens

I know, I know, it's about time for a kitten update.
They're three weeks old now.

Zoe couldn't make up her mind where she wanted to to build her kitty nest so it was fun waking up every few days to find them somewhere new.
Or, being woken up in the middle of the night:
"No Zoe, you can't keep your babies in Kim's sweater cupboard. Quick Kim, close the door when I lure her out with this crying kitten."
And realizing that cats really don't have any spatial sense as Zoe rudely wakes us up to rescue the squealing bundle she dropped into a tiny space behind Kim's bedside table before realizing that there wasn't even room in there for her, let alone 5 more kittens.

She's now made a full circuit of our bedroom, starting at the back of our closet for the first few days.
one day old

After being locked out of the sweater cupboard she found a space in the corner beside the cupboard, behind a bin which we had to move out to make enough room for them to (barely) fit.
6 days old

The morning after the midnight rescue mission we found them squeezed in behind my bedside table, which we then pulled out another foot so they wouldn't have to sleep stacked up even higher than their usual sleep-clump.
7 days old

After experimenting with trying to feed the kittens under an armchair that she could barely squeeze herself under, she finally settled on the space between that armchair and the last corner of our bedroom. We placed a box (that nice cozy one we had prepared that she kept rejecting) across the opening to enclose the space and tucked rolled-up blankets into the crack under the chair to prevent any wandering. This is where they've been for the past 2 weeks but it won't last much longer.

10 days old

Now that their eyes are open & they're walking...
Tiger-face and Number Six at 17 days old

(I'm being generous by calling it walking- they lurch, stumble, stagger & teeter around like a bunch of 4-legged little drunks, although to give them some credit, lately they haven't been falling over onto their backs quite as often) they're soon going to outgrow the nest & we'll have to try and convince their Mom to let them move downstairs into their own pad. With their own 'sand-box' to play in even!
Then Kim & I won't be woken in the night to kittens squealing "NO NO Mommy, I don't WANT a bath right now". She pins them down & washes them so vigorously we can hear her tongue rasping across their fat little bellies from across the room.

Here are some newly-open eyes:

This is Number Five but since he opened his eyes we've taken to referring to him as "the little bear cub" Not one white hair on him. (that's someone else in the bottom corner)

Here's Tiger peeking out from under the pile of his sleeping siblings. 12 days old and still half asleep

11-day-old Tiger-face.

Before you think "OMG they are SO pathetic at coming up with names" I should explain that Shea won't let us name them because we won't be their final home (except for the one we keep, which I will choose... some time... later... I have lots of time to decide so stop bugging me) so we call them by descriptions, or their birth order.

Silver and Number Six at 12 days.
Silver, who was first born (first to do everything, that rascal) was first to open his eyes and Number Six was last, still not fully open here.

The only one missing from this line-up is Mittens, aka The Squealer.
Before the kittens were born Shea said that if one of them had white front paws like Zoe we would have to call it Mittens, so there you go.
We could have come up with something more interesting if one of them had had tall white "stripper boots" on his back legs like Mom. (I mean the kittens' Mom, not my Mom)

Oh, and we still don't know who's a boy and who's a girl.
I've tried, but I can't tell the difference between an "exclamation mark" and a "semi-colon".

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cuteness Overload Alert

I certainly didn't intend this blog to be "all kittens, all the time" but certain out-of-town family members have already been clamouring for kitty pics so I'm giving advance warning that it may be just that for the next little while.

Monday March 8th, 7:30 am. (there, now I have a record of the date)
"Shea, get up or you'll be late for school"
"I am, but Mom, come here."
"OK, what is it?" (which excuse this time?)
"Just look in the closet."

There was our Zoe on the floor of Shea's closet with two soggy little mice-like creatures nuzzling up to her.
I'd been telling her all weekend she better hurry those kittens along because I was starting a new job on Tuesday & I'm sure she wouldn't want to have them alone. At least someone still listens to my advice.
I checked around her just in case there were any more and my heart sunk when I found a 3rd bundle, still encased in its placenta. Poor Zoe, so overwhelmed she missed this poor little lost one.
Then it moved.
I quickly ripped open the sac and put it in front of its Mama.
"Quick Zoe, those two are clean enough for now, this one needs your attention."
She licked and loved that little one back to life. Another black kitten.

Once that crisis had passed this new family needed something more comfortable than the floor so I brought up the cozy box we had prepared for them. Now how best to transfer them? Of course, move the babies & Mom will quickly follow.
I shooed my own offspring off to school - at least they have an interesting excuse for being late today - then turned back to count the little line-up to make sure all three were settled and eating.
"One gray plus one, two, THREE?! blacks. Where did that 4th one come from? Boy, you're fast Zo, wish it was that easy for us humans to give birth.

While giving her a congratulatory pat I thought her stomach felt a little lumpy so wasn't very surprised when Number Five arrived with a little shriek.
This one was all black from head to toes, with not a speck of the white markings that distinguished his siblings. Feisty, too. He just couldn't find what he was looking for, even with two juicy nipples right in front of his face. I nudged & pushed him in the right direction, even resorted to bumping his little nose into the nipple but no go.
He was positive his siblings were hiding the best ones & plunged right into the row of contentedly suckling kittens, burrowing under them.
Little silver must have been the first born, being the cleanest, and was an old pro at latching on, not interrupting dinner to smack away pushy little brother (sister?)

First picture of the rather rumpled new family.
Bet you're glad my camera battery was re-charging so I missed all the gooey, just-out-of-the-wrapper parts.

A Six-Pack!

A full 2 hours after the first ones, we had a big surprise: Number Six.
A funny-looking little black & white clown.

I scooped up the first five and put them in a basket to give Mom room to look after Number Six, who also had to be rescued from the placenta.
Five kittens in one handful:

I put #5 back with Mom & #6 before the rest to make sure they both got a chance to get the knack of this latching-on thing before they had to fight with the older four for some nipple time.

Take note of this, one of the only times you'll see Silver not latched on to Mom. That one has a voracious appetite.

There are six in there. Click on the picture to see if you can count them all.

And you have to click on these two to get the full adorableness impact of hours-old kitten ears (above) and little tiger faces(below).

The Case of the Disappearing Kittens

After a day spent in Shea's bedroom with adoring admirers peeking in, we brought the new family downstairs to a nice quiet room of their own. We re-considered this move when we realized that Zoe was obviously torn between her need to be with the kittens and her desire to be around her human family. I wondered if we would have to pack that box of kittens around the house with us so Zoe wouldn't feel neglected but decided in the end to leave them downstairs for the night.
5:30 am Kim woke me up. "The kittens are gone! Zoe's downstairs alone, I've gone through the house and can't hear them anywhere."
"Zoe will lead us to them. Won't you girl? Where are they? Show us where your babies are."
Right on cue, off she trots - straight to her food dish.

After checking out all the hidden nesting places Zoe had been test-driving the past few weeks, and out of ideas, I made it back to our bedroom, and there, way in the back of our closet, I found a tangled little pile of peacefully sleeping kittens. (that's #6 bottom left, with the pink nose)

Resourceful Zoe found a way to be with her kittens and still keep her old habit of sleeping near us.

Wonderful, now I come home to find my small walk-in closet crammed full of teenage boys (one even brought his girlfriend, is my closet now a date destination?) trying to see the new kittens.