Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Signs of Spring

I drove to Happy Valley Road today.

 As I drove, I felt the soft touch of the sunshine on my face. After months and months of rain, what a welcome kiss.

It is warmer there than here in the shadow of the mountain, where I call home.

 I live close to Malahat Mountain and get the cold winds from the mountain itself reinforced by the winds off of the ocean.

 The tips of the trees are pale green, just a few more
days and they will burst forth with their leaves uncoiling from the buds that encloses them for the moment.

The wild roses has huge red hips, bursting with vitamin C waiting to be picked and boiled. They are huge red orbs in the green bushes.

Lambs have been dropped and are nuzzling at the bellies of their parent looking for the milk that will nourish them and then they will grow up, and in due time,give up their fleece to fibre junkies like me.
Skunk cabbage, one of my favorite signs of Spring, is blooming as proud and as beautiful as the finest lily.

The slow sign in the picture of the blossoms is perhaps a reminder to all "slow down" and enjoy the approaching season instead of trying to push it through to summer.

As I came to clearings in the woods, I find no houses but the reminder that a home once stood there.

The apple tree is blooming, the daffodils are in clumps and putting forth in their yellow petty coats and their green gowns.

 There are wood violets and crocus, spreading from gardens untended now and keeping their secret of whose hands tenderly cared them and what their story was.

My mission in going to happy Valley Road, was to attend the Knitting Cafe.

 A hand knit club of ladies with the one token male, are all knitting with various degrees of skill.

It is another fine example of how the older people in the community, foster the learning of the younger women.

All clacking along with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoying just the glow of the friendship that is abundantly given.

The older I get,the more I admire the generous spirits of women

. And with each passing Spring, I appreciate the part of the world we live in.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Juan De Fuca Art and Craft Guild

What a good thing to be among like minded people.

I have just arrived home from the monthly meeting of the Juan De Fuca Arts and Craft Guild Meeting.

I had a co pilot  to reach the St. Johns Heritage Church in Colwood. I seem to have to drive by GPS

The majority of the membership were women. with the odd token male to set the tone.

It is easy to see why the Good Book directs the older ladies to instruct the younger ones. We have so much to share and such a lot more to learn.

The skills and trades we have are so interesting to share with a younger person.

The Guild is made up of all types of arts and crafts, fine art, metal and wood work, rock-hounds, quilters, knitters, spinners and weavers, collectors and creators.

And sitting there, I hear snippets of tips, and knowledge that I file away in my little brain box of data to sort out later.

At the beginning of the meeting, we paused a moment to present past president Joanne Burton with her past presidents pin. A well earned accolade.

I saw a beautiful picture tonight of torn paper craft. It was astounding.

Many had knitting on their lap as their fingers and needles clicked along.

When the business part was done, including notices of an auction to be held in May as well as a craft fair.also in May, we broke for coffee and goodies and then were treated to an art show.

Each piece done with love and talent. Some in water colour, some in oils, some in charcoal. It whetted your appetite for more and then they announced that more was to come at the Juan De Fuca Seniors Centre.

Follow this blog for dates and events to come.

In the mean time, take a peek at some of the art pieces presented tonight. I apologize for not having the names of the artist. I wasn't quick enough on the trigger to get a pencil and write the names. I will do better next time.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How I Felt Today

Well what a sight for happy eyes. Colour, texture, lace, silk, fleece, wool, silk, luxury.

The whole table full of beautiful fibres, flowing and floating around.

Laurie Steffler  had graciously visited the
  Victoria  Handweavers  and Spinners Guild..and introduce us tp some of the articles in her collection from her Gallery.
In Lauries words felting involves :"Fiber fushion and the nuno felting technique is so exciting to work with. Felting merino wool and specialty fibers with silk fabric creates luxurious art to wear. Its fun to explore because of its infinite creative design possibilities. Playing with colour,
creating images or being abstract and fusing other fibers in with the wool always provides wonderful results. We lay out our designs and then use hot water, soap and agitation."
I have been dabbling in felting, both wet felting and needle felting.

 It is liberating and exciting..

You start with lace, or silk, or chiffon. Add merino, or a drab of silk, stir in a large amount of free thinking and imagination.

You can create gowns, shawls,hats, vest and blouses as light as a feather that float around you like a dream on a warm summer night.
There is so much to show. Please look at her sight, or better still visit her studio or in the Summer at the Salt Spring Market

One of her many  skills is that of hat making.

 It is pure genius to see how she she takes fibre and creates hats with no seams.
 Even more enchanting is the way she refreshes her wardrobe.

 She will felt and reshape a hat, over dye a shirt or vest, chap a piece up and add it to a fresh creation. 

This can only come from a deep love of the art and colours on the West coast.

 She notes that if she  had her way, she would kayak around the Island, stopping to create what the day would lead us to in our soul then paddle off in the mists of the coast.

You can start with some needle felting.

 It is very inexpensive to start and their are course at Laurie's and other places like Notty by nature

Google for free patterns for felting, both wet felting and needle felting.

This young lady gives and excellent demonstration on how to make a felt hat. 

There are some excellent video workshops for free on You tube.

So far all I have sold are my felted dryer balls, but I have my eye on the bigger picture. I have a good book, needles, imagination, and who knows how I felt tomorrow.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Needles and Pushers

I have  been addicted to needles and pushers for about  60 years now.

 Before the pushers there were just the needle. I guess I could be called and addict.

When I was 4 or 5 my mother introduced me to needles. They were long and British style. made of bone and fitted under my chubby arms and I would knit little squares.

Then I would knit sweaters for my dolls with my needles.
 I soon learned that I had to start the sleeves first, or my lazy mind would take over and I would knit a lit of vest. Disciple is what I needed.

By the time I was in Grade 6, I was knitting my own sweater. And I   still starting with the sleeves.
 I was delighted when a new fashion came in that called for a thick wooden needle in one hand, and a ordinary size needle in the other, producing a lacy sort of cardigan and sweater.

About the same time I discovered the sewing needle. I loved these needles. You could see results far more quickly by sewing two pieces of cloth together.

After a few years of plying my needle by hand, we acquired Singer treadle machine.

What joy! What progress!

I could make a skirt in a couple of hours with a newspaper and pencil and some cloth.
The newspaper and pencil was to make my pattern.

 We couldn't afford bought patterns so it was a home made job. And to tell the truth, they were pretty darn good.
Sometimes, I would lay on the floor and Mom would trace around me. That was the beginning of a dress or blouse.
Mom was the same way.
 If we saw something in a store we liked, she would measure it with her hand and fingers, much like a horseman measures a horse, and in 2 days, it was complete.

The other things that I learned were  patience and perseverance. If anyone has owned a treadle machine and those bullet shaped bobbins and the tension control will believe in fairies.
 Bad ones that change the tension and time they were feeling frisky, or if things were progressing too well.

I progressed through Home Economics and found the joys of both patterns and electric sewing machine. A small battle with my teacher when I picked a dress and small cape, and she wanted to start me on an apron. I won and got an A+.

My mom and I started the Cowichan Valley Basting belles. A sewing 4-H club. It was great.

The first year, The Archie Stevenson trophy for the  Seamstress of the Year was a boy. Richard Meyer.

After the death of my daughter, Megan,  Mrs Joan Meyer and her daughter took over the club. It has acquitted itself well in competitions all over BC with a solid reputation for excellence.

I was still knitting by hand. Often using the string pattern method in lieu of patterns. This is where you take a piece of string, put a knot where the length would be. Another double knot around the chest, and further 3 or 4 knots for the sleeve length and cuff size.

Then  I learned I was going to be a grandmother.

I bought my first punch card Knitting machine, complete with all the accessories like hooks, and needles, needle pushers, books and punch cards.

The same time I bought my Knitting machine from Joyce's Knits in Ladysmith, She lived across the road. She purchased a computer at the same time and I am considered a bit of a geek, so we ended up with a pathway worn between the houses and with a great deal of knowledge between us.

I upgraded to a Brother 970, a Brother 270, a garter carriage and a whole lot of  other toys.

I knitted a 3 piece suit for my son's wedding as well as a few layettes. A number of sweaters for myself and the rest of the family.

I am now spinning with machine knitting in mind.
I haven't knitted anything hand spun yet, but soon.....
3 Piece Suit . Designed and knitted by me.
So that is how my life  became a  journey of pushers and needles.......
 I guess someday, I will have an intervention, but til then, I will just keep pushing the needles.

Hem detail

Friday, March 2, 2012

A New Overhauled You.

Can you see how moving ahead in your evolvement of the you that is hidden in you is a series of  interlaced modules, get the finances in order. Make more time for growth and pleasure by uncluttering your life with dead wood relationships.

Let’s look at the next of part of butterfly emerging from the cocoon.

 As a child we are taught to take second place. When we had company, the rule was FHB. (family hold back) to make sure enough food was there to go around and the basic good manner that guests are served first.

We are asked to be quiet till invited to say our piece then allow the adults to toss  the conversation ball.

Often we wore hand me downs.  We always stood for adults. Basic manners were strictly adhered to. But as we proceeded to Adulthood, we took those messages with us.

As wives and mother, we made daily tiny sacrifices. The extra peach half from the can would go in dads bowl. If there was a cash crunch, kids in school would get new shoes to go back to school. Mom would make do.

At Christmas and birthdays, presents of much wanted items would be purchased some way for our loved ones, and we would smile at the macaroni, stuck on a jam jar and say “ Oh that is wonderful darling, I love it.” That was true. It was gift of time spent with us in mind. But the basic message is we don’t deserve to have the lion’s share of the disposable income.

Now the fledglings are out of the nest, and our clothes are “good enough”. Our hair looks nice as it did when  we were married wearing   a similar style.
We have still a bit of blush we bought 4 years ago to wear with our medium shade of base.
And you have probably figured the message out that we have become shabby and stale and out of date.

You can go to your stylist and say" a hair cut please", and she will dutifully give you the same jaded took you have worn for years.

My wake up was a gift certificate to an unknown Spa, Stylist Shop
I went in at my usual perm time and ask for a perm with a trim after.
The stylist ran experienced fingers through my hair and said,"You don’t need a perm. You need a good hair cut”

Well that was nearly four years ago and I have not had a perm since. The stylists talented, experienced fingers, saw me in a new way and cut years off my face. We added a few highlights that brought the sun to my drab mousy hair.

We looked at make up with the mineral base and colours that matched my older skin, and made it look younger, fresher and clean.

I had lost a lot of weight and my eyes were sunken in my face, making bruised sockets in my face.
She convinced me to go to a free consultation with a esthetics specialist.

The result was a bit of filler in the baggy  hollows under my eyes and BANG another 5 years evaporated from my face.

Then I attacked my closet as I described in Miss Minimalist. I uncluttered my wardrobe, added a few well chosen pieces following her guidelines.

Then  I just put my hand in the closet, a Voila, a matching outfit that makes me feel well dressed and smart and it all matches. My closet is neater, less clutter, and stylish.

What did all this transformation cost me? Counting the stylist consultations, New hair style,  new hair and face product, a little filler to make my face look  less stressed and tired, new additions to my wardrobe.
It was all under $700. Not bad investment for the rest of my life.

Now what is stopping you?

You have a ton of excuses. It is greedy, I don’t deserve it, people will laugh at you or tease you. HOGWASH!!

After all the sacrifices throughout your life, you have earned it.

You will become a happier, more confident and more stylist person.

Life coaches usually charge $200 for initial consultation, and a choice of three areas to explore first. Each session will be a professional hour, with email and phone support and adventures, or home work to strengthen your gifts.

As you explore who you are, you may want to add more modules to your portfolio. These should be $25 with the same initial time and follow up.

Now it is time to look at some of the other areas I mention. I will let you explore those areas on your own or with a life coach. “Here’s looking at you.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Time and Dead Wood

Change takes time. And in our busy lives, we seem to find that to be the most a scarce commodity.

Keep a log for a week and keep track of how you spend your time.
It is as important as doing a budget and as difficult to tailor and keep.

Keep a track of the actual productive hours spent, at work, either out of the home or in it.

How much time do we feel we are producing up to your potential?
I know if I get cracking, I can have my home presentable In about an hour, including a load of laundry and putting a loaf of bread in my bread machine.

On my monthly deep cleaning days stretch that time to 3 hours.
There are many ways of budgeting your time to make the less appealing jobs more enjoyable.

 The reward is always a success. Give you self an award for completing a task you have been avoiding.
I have a plan printed out on my fridge (the community message board) that gives a general outline of what needs to be done and when.

I base mine around my home and business. If you need help generating your plan, you may need a bit of help from a life coach.

Habits that are good can be developed.  I get out of bed, throw my covers open, let my dog out, do my hygiene, dress and make my bed. (Unless it is sheet changing day)

Only then do I go into the living room. The animals are the first concern for me, I feel the bird, the fish in the pond outside and my little dog gets another run in the yard, then change her water and feed her.

Now we can have coffee, breakfast and then unload the dishwasher.

Vacuum, dust, sweep kitchen and front porch and my house is presentable. Total time? Less than one hour.

I look at my computer answer my emails, and if I am rewarding myself, I post on face book, update my log and maybe play a couple of games of scrabble. Time ha ha ha  well another hour, se we looking 10:30 or so in the eye.
I take supper meat out, and I plan what I have to do for a meal.

If I have a meeting, I can be out of the house by 10, or 11, depending on the appointment, just by cutting out the computer other than E-MAIL. ( work related) for this I have 2 email addresses.

Now lets talk about the big DECLUTTER than we spend hours of fruitless time. That of deadwood relationships.

I have friends, I love my friends and am willing to invest as much time as needed to support them and share their joys, achievement, and sadness.

But I had a group of people who, because I tend to be empathetic would use me as a sounding board.

One has an addicted abusive son of1 8 who steals, and beats her. The old adage once shame on him, the second, shame on you. If you not prepared to either, call the police, evict him from the house, or get him in reasonable rehab. There is nothing I can do for you except nod my head and say “Oh that is too bad. I am so sorry.” I am sorry.Yes  I am sorry you will not, and I mean will not deal with it. Cannot is not in my work vocabulary.

 How many hours a week do you spend listen to different versions of the same sob story? Sorry folks, but this is a dead wood relationship.

They feel unburdened for a very brief time, and you feel used. It colours the rest of your day or week. You cannot help them. They must help themselves.

Invest one more session in outlining their options. Then next time they call advise them that you have too many neat projects on right now and have not time to listed, again advise them of the name of a professional, and bid them a pleasant day and hang up.

Only you know the dead wood you are dealing with. A going nowhere partner, an adult child who will not take control of their own life but won’t let you help, just wants to whine, groups or organizations too can rob you of life joy or time. If you do not get something back in a relationship, then it is dead wood.

The other dead wood is the TV. My son likes to watch the news during breakfast, if a program starts after the news, it will suck in my attention and there is one of my precious hours gone from my 24 a day.

It may sound unfeeling and cruel, but in the end, you will have more time for the things you enjoy, and no heavy burden of logs on your back from others misery.

You will find you have more time, a better attitude and you will not meet your partner with those dreaded words " do you know what x did to Y TODAY!!!"  I don't mean do not share, you can share your good bad and ugglies with a friend or relative . But it is your good bad and ugglies or theirs, a 2 way street. You get something out of the relationship.

I have a phone honesty agreements with my friends. The first thing they and I day is " Do you have time to talk?" If I do I simply say " yes". If I am on way to other things I may answer " I can give you five minutes, but I will have more time after supper" This is a contract. We both know how long we can talk. The after supper may be a half hour gab session, but we both are aware of the ground rules, and no one is hurt if I say "Not at the moment." No apology, or explanation is needed.

More later. I have earned a treat. I am going to spin some beautiful fleece I bought at the spin in.