wondering… beneath the red pines

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This weekend my family and I spent a day at Red Pine Camp visiting with my sister-in-law and her family. This camp is situated on Golden Lake, Ontario, amid a stand of red pines.

I wasn’t here long before I started wondering, have you ever noticed how beautiful the bark of a red pine is?

Red pine bark makes me think of an impossible watercolour impasto. I just love all the watery shades of grey, taupe and rose. I took this photo, below, as a reference for future Fairisle knitting inspiration.
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Besides my lovely extended family and all the wonderful trees, we also enjoyed the company of the local fauna.

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Oh, the chipmunks! Don’t you just love chipmunks? I wonder what it is about them? I would never let their bushy-tailed cousin, the squirrel, get this close to me (or my children). And yet, there’s something about these little stripey fellows that melt my heart and want to draw them close.

In any case, these resident chipmunks might be some of the best fed rodents around (I admit my kids fed them too, despite my mixed feelings about it). I have a feeling, too, that beneath each camp cabin hides a treasure trove of seeds and nuts stowed away for the colder months. I like to imagine them happily feasting long after all of us humans have gone back home (until next summer).

And then there was also this little critter that I almost stepped on. I’m so glad I was looking down, she was camouflaged so well with the grass below that I had to look twice to make sure she wasn’t a bit of grass seed.

I wonder what it is about human nature that desires physical contact with cute, fuzzy things?

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Watching Tim watching the caterpillar inch its way through the grass, I felt so proud and reassured that despite all their exposure to today’s technology, they still show a deep interest and desire for connection with the natural world around them. I suppose it is moments like these, seeing my children’s own sense of wonder come alive, when I feel the most hopeful for their future.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
- Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
- Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Now I wonder about you… Have you had any exciting encounters out in nature recently? Do you see things in nature that inspire you in your craft or art? Have you read that tremendous book by Rachel Carson? Might I suggest you do?

Happy Monday! Wishing you a wonderful start to your week.

(still) knitting and reading

Is it possible one whole week has vanished? Summer living is like a dream, trying to hold on to it is as futile as holding on to a dream once woken. Where do I start? Well, I suppose, since I am joining Ginny’s Yarn Along today, it makes most sense to show you what’s (still) on the needles and what’s (still) on my bedside table.

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My husband and I made a summertime executive decision (such are the perks of being a parent) to read only one, communal, story at the boys’ bedtime for the next little while instead of reading one story/book per child. So far, our new bedtime story routine has been a whooping success.

Oh, the laughs we have shared! We started with Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and have now moved on to its sequel, Superfudge. Despite feeling the need to censor a few words (the word “stupid” comes up a lot, and I seem to have a hard time with that) as well as edit almost entire chapters (like the one about Santa Claus – talk about spoiler alert!), reading these books together has become a highlight of our days. Honestly, it’s a dream come true. Don’t you just love when books bring you together?

As for me, I haven’t had much time for my own reading, or blogging it would seem, so Heather Ross’ book How to Catch a Frog is still on my nightstand – delightful though it is – virtually untouched these last couple of weeks. Instead, I read my daily Bible passage hopefully just long enough for me to benefit from its wisdom before I’m on my way to dreamland.

Perhaps I might also mention that I took this photo just over a week ago, but, not knowing if there would be a Yarn Along or not, given the sad, sad news shared over at Ginny’s recently, I decided I would just sit on it. It was just as well because nothing much has changed on my Green Leaves shawl either. Would you believe… it happened, again.

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Despite my best efforts to squeeze out my one skein of yarn I had for the edging – and do I mean squeeze – I knit as tightly as I could from the very first stitch of the edging to what you see here. Still, there wasn’t quite enough yarn. Maybe one of these days I will write more about that.

Do you know what, though? I’m not at all discouraged by it. I know another skein will arrive any day now and it would seem, given the circumstances, that I have been given the perfect excuse to cast on for some projects I’ve been positively itching to get to. Projects for friends.

Oh, there is so much I would like to show you about these little projects! But I think the slideshow will have to wait until these gifts have been sent on their merry little way.

Well… perhaps a little sneak peak wouldn’t hurt too much…

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What about you? What are you reading these days? Are you as excited as I am about your current knitting/crafting projects? Do tell, I so love to hear your news.

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday, I’m so glad you stopped by!

time travelling

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This past weekend found me and my family taking a trip back in time to the 1860s at Upper Canada Village. It was a wonderful day, full of interesting facts and fine weather.

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We visited a woollen mill, a flour mill and a sawmill. All fully operational and hydro powered.

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We saw some truly elegant interiors, including the interior of a Masonic Lodge – a place I never would have been allowed to see in its day!

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We admired the handiwork both contemporary to the nineteenth century and the twenty-first (the reproduction handmade brooms). I was sorely tempted to bring home one of these brooms!

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We fell in love with all the critters either at work or in the pasture or on the road (!). Any guesses at what kind of winged creature this green mammoth my son moved off the road will become? If you know, I would love for you to share.

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DSC_0434The gardens were nothing short of inspiring, as was the artwork made from its flowers and greenery.

I had such a good time, I hope you don’t mind too much that I wanted to share this multitude of photos with you so you could catch a small glimpse of this amazing place. Believe me, my post today just barely skims the surface. If you are ever in or around the Morrisburg, Ontario area, I encourage you to stop by Upper Canada Village and experience it all for yourself. I dare say you won’t regret it.

Wishing you a wonderful day!

p.s. Me being me couldn’t resist bringing this home – perfect mitten wool!

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Food for thought Friday

 

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“The brilliant poppy flaunts her head
Amidst the ripening grain,
And adds her voice to sell the song
That August’s here again.”
- Helen Winslow

Happy August to you! I love August – the shifting light, the little glimpses here and there of crisp, cool days ahead (though they may yet be months away), the ripening of so many things and the fading of others. To me, August promises the coming of autumn while we are still enjoying the good company of summer. A reminder, of sorts, of all that is good – now and yet to come. Of course, I assume you love the autumn months much like me.

“To be interested in the changing seasons is . . . a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
- George Santayana

Naturally, August’s faint whispers of fall prompt me to prepare for the advent of cold hands and heads. While I know that there are many hot and heady days still before me, I find myself dreaming of mitten making and wondering, what colours look best against fallen leaves, or freshly fallen snow, though heaven forbid I should mention the word “snow” in August!

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Am I all alone in thinking, dreaming, preparing for fall in August? Have you started any projects meant for the next season in the year? I would love to know.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend (long weekend ahead to my Canadian friends)!

endurance knitting

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“A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.”

- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

If any of you out there have ever knit a really big project (afghan knitters I salute you), you will know what it’s like to reach a certain point in your project when you look at what you have made, and feel a certain satisfaction because what you see looks like a real accomplishment. You feel happy because what you see before you is the result of your own hard work.

Now, knitting in itself isn’t hard at all, once you’ve had a little practise. What is hard about knitting is maintaining the willpower, the patience, determination and faithfulness (though some of you may debate the need for fidelity) required to see your project to its glorious end.

In any case, here you are admiring your hard work, wiping the figurative sweat from your brow and it dawns on you, or at least really sinks in, that the demand for your hard work isn’t over. No, far from it. Sometimes you might even feel your heart sink a bit in your chest. I know that sometimes even I feel my heart sink all the way down to my toes when I remember that the race isn’t over yet.

Well, that is how things are with me these days, at least in my knitting life working on my Green Leaves shawl. At present, I don’t feel discouraged, thankfully. I feel close enough to the next stage of my shawl building to feel a bright glimmer of hope. And yet I know, having done this enough times now, there are still moments of knitting despair ahead of me (okay, the word despair might be a little strong), even up to the last 50 yards of knitting. I remember how I put my Hansel Hap away for months when I only had a few days worth of knitting left to do because I lost the heart to keep knitting it.

So today, the Tolstoy quote sums up my coping strategy, my mantra, if you will, to keep me going. Each day I measure my success in rounds and I try my best to focus only on this goal. Right now I have a goal of four rounds a day. That may not sound like much but at 580 stitches a round, at roughly 45 minutes a round, I feel four rounds of knitting is a serious commitment of my time. I try not to think about how many more days (heaven forbid I think in terms of weeks) it will take to finish my Green Leaves shawl. I try not to think about all the other things I would like to start knitting and with fall not that far away now, my cold weather and Christmas knit lists are growing longer and louder in my mind. Instead, I try to focus on my four rounds a day and be happy with that.

Some of you might reasonably suggest I take a break from my Green Leaves shawl and, in the end, I might just do that. But right now, I am convinced I can finish this project before the end of August – in my dreams I can finish it by the middle of the month – four rounds at a time.

How about you? Do you have any mantras or strategies that help you get over the proverbial long distance finish line, knitting or otherwise? I would love to hear about it.

Thank you for joining me here today. Wishing you a very happy week ahead!

p.s. I can’ t figure out wether having this little display of yarn, below, is a help or hindrance, on one hand, I see a promise of knitting to come, on the other, I know that it will be some time yet before that promise is fulfilled. Would you put it away or leave it out?

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kinda sorta did

Thanks to a thoughtful fellow instagramer, I was tipped off to a most dreamy yarn and fabric shop in Burlington called Nido. Of course I had to check it out!  And boy, was I glad I did. In short, Nido was a knitter’s and sewist’s paradise. I am amazed that I made it out alive. Really, it was that good! But don’t take my word for it, have a look for yourself (well, through my lens!).

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I think the blurry photo is due to my hands shaking from excitement (haha).

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I was welcomed by Molly, who, as you can see is quite an accomplished knitter herself. She was working on a most beautiful sweater. She graciously agreed to pose for me with her knitting. Thank you Molly for the wonderful service!

Would you like to see what I took home with me? Of course you would!

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Peace Fleece for some cold weather accessories. I can’t believe how soft this yarn is.

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Some very pretty fingering Meadow yarn from The Fibre Company. I also took home some gorgeous linen fabric by Skinny LaMinx for some exciting little sewing projects to happen soon. I love Skinny LaMinx!

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I also picked up a copy of this book by Heather Ross. It just felt right to buy it in Vermont. I started reading it last night. What a great storyteller Heather is, I can’t wait to get back to it tonight.

Now if that wasn’t enough, I also couldn’t resist popping in the LYS in Stowe called Stowe Fabric and Yarn (appropriately enough) that happens to be near a favourite Bookshop called Bear Pond Books (in case you’re ever in the area). While the store was a little unassuming, there were fuzzy treasure to be found there as well.

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Like this Malabrigo SilkPaca. How could I leave that behind?

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Or this? On the left is roughly 200m of handspun Llama, surprisingly soft despite the guard hairs. On the right is the most squishy baby alpaca from Peru that was hand dyed by a local Vermonter. Both will make perfect cold weather companions I think.

Well, looking at this I guess I kinda, sorta did get a little carried away. If only yarn didn’t make such a great memento. Sigh.

Now, I’m off to work on my Green Leaves shawl so I can make room in my knitting basket for some new projects.

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I just finished my first repeat of Chart D (32 rounds to go yay!) which means I might just get this finished for the fall. Unless I get distracted by something new, that is.

How about you? What is your favourite thing to bring home from your travels? Is it yarn like me? Or maybe something else? Please share, I so love to hear about these things.

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday!

I <3 Vermont

I’m back from a wonderful time in the Green Mountain State, so happy to have gone and yet so happy to be back. Home is most appreciated after you’ve been away from it for a little while, don’t you think?

Here are a few photos… okay, a LOT of photos from our tip. While I was in Vermont I saw:

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Dirt roads…

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Dirt trails (on the Trapp Family Lodge grounds)…

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Wooded trails…

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Cute little baby toes…

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Dock toes…

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Pond docks…

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Pond swimming…

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Barn vistas…

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Beloved mountains.

I even saw an unexpected neighbourly display of…

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FIREWORKS! sorry, they were really more spectacular in real life. I love fireworks and watching these was such a fun way to spend our last night with our friends in this special place.

Thank you to all our wonderful hosts for their splendid company and generous hospitality. If you’ve never been to Vermont before, I hope you will someday find yourselves there, falling in love with those gentle Green Mountains as I have.

Thank you, too, for stopping by today and humouring me with my little slide show. I wish you a wonderful day and pleasant start to your week. Happy Monday!

 

p.s. Vermont is also a joyful place to be a knitter and wool lover. I’ll be back on Wednesday to show you a few more travel shots from a knitter’s perspective. See you then!

travelling

 

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Clothes have been laid out and bags packed. I’m bringing along a special stone to give to a special friend who is always close in spirit, despite the time and space between us.

We are off on a little road trip to visit some dear friends and dear places tucked away in the Green Mountains. It’s been a little over a year since we were last there. I wonder if the mountains will remember me?

It strikes me that some places, if we love them enough, leave a deep and lasting imprint on our lives. Stowe, VT is one of those places for us, full of happy memories, a place where we’ve had so much fun over the years. And while the mountains I’ve come to love so much may not remember me, let alone miss me while I’m away, I can hardly wait for my feet to touch their rocky soil.

I’m curious if you have a place, or places, like that and I wonder, too, what is it about your place that has left its mark on you? I would really love to know.

How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you — you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences — like rags and shreds of your very life.

-Katherine Mansfield

I hope to send you a few “postcards” from my trip, however, if blogging proves to be impossible I will be back here on Monday. Until then:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

- Irish proverb

Wishing you a wonderful day!

p.s. In case you were wondering, of course I’m bringing my “happy” basket, too. Knitting is the best way to travel passenger side!

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p.p.s  Worth a mention and a little journey of your own for all of you on Ravelry: I’ve just joined the most WONDERFUL group for fans of cabinfour’s beautiful designs. I encourage you to check it out here and say hello to all the truly lovely folks there. I warn you, though, you might just find yourself like me and wanting to cast on a whole slew of new projects!

meadow walk

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One evening last week we took a post-dinner family walk along a favourite path. This is the same path we walked, all bundled up in our heavy winter layers, stopping here and there to do some New Year’s Eve stargazing. It seems impossible to believe that little more than six months ago, each inhale felt like our lungs were filling up with a million icy knives when nowadays, in the dog days of summer, we are practically melting in the heat and humidity.

As you can see, this path cuts through a very pretty meadow where, should you come early in the morning, you can see the flattened patches of grass where the deer had slept only hours before. Because we came in the evening, there were no traces of deer remaining though we were greeted with welcome visions of fluttering butterflies instead.

This path also leads us through a very special place that serves as a multi-faith spiritual retreat. While it may just be my imagination, I believe you can feel its unique sense of calm and peace as you walk through its grounds.

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Even my turbo-charged son, Sam, seems to have fallen under its spell while I stopped every few steps to take in the view.

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Ben was happy enough to ride back and forth on his bike.

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While my beautiful sister decided that waiting for me to catch up would be made more fun by playing a cute (and hysterical) little “blow in your face” game with Tim.

All this allowed me to stroll at my slow, leisurely pace and admire the gilded scenery…

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…before we made our way back home, to bed and sleep, thankful for the day, for our feet, for this meadow path and the light that lit it.

What about you? Do you have a favourite, “hallowed” place to walk? What makes it so special? I’d love to know.

Wishing you a happy Monday and a gentle start to the week ahead.

a time of wonder

While the early morning hours are typically my favourite time of the day (as long as you don’t need me to talk), there is a time later in the day I can only describe as pure magic. When the sun begins to set behind the houses just west of me, my dining room becomes a place of the most beautiful light and shadow.  I thought I would share some glimpses of this light with you in hopes you feel the magic and wonder of it all, too…

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…I love how my windowsill garden starts to glow…

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… and the shadow play never fails to capture my attention…

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…until I get distracted by my latest knitting project, of course! it’s Jared Flood’s Leaves of Grass Shawl pattern

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… and start thinking about how happy I am to join the remarkable Ginny today with her Yarn Along, getting to share my current knitting and reading endeavours with a truly lovely group of other bloggers…

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…wanting to share my love of this story, in particular (I really, really LOVE this story!)…

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… and then letting my eyes wander over to some peachy goodness…

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… and taking as much time as my patient family will allow to let all the beauty and wonder of this fading light to work its precious magic on me before another day comes to a close.

What about you? Do you have a favourite, magical time of the day? I would love to hear about it as well as whatever knitting project that’s got you distracted these days, too. I ALWAYS love to hear about that!

Wishing you a lovely day, full of wonder and magic.