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August 17, 2022

it is too hot to think – I’ve pulled the plug on the vacuum and decided to mow the lawn after dinner

not even sure I can write this – if it seems a bit crazy blame it on the heat

the garden is blooming – the neighbour’s cat is looking for shade

and I sat down and picked up my knitting – yes, knitting!

for some crazy reason I thought it was a good time to start knitting fingerless mitts – for when it gets cold

wishful thinking? – no, I’m not a happy Winter person

using small scrap balls of 2 ply handspun, natural dyed wool

the colours/patterns will be different in each mitt

I’m using a pattern from the internet but my printer is out of ink so I wrote it down on an old envelope

still doodling with needle and thread, a little every day

stitching the words takes the most time – got a bit wobbly here

the meaning of mottainai – from a 2011 blog

one of my Mother’s favorite sayings was “waste not, want not” – she was ahead of her time

waste not, want not

Scrap Happy August 2022

August 14, 2022

“tis the season – to wear a sun bonnet

even bears feel the heat

hats are difficult to make for bears – their ears are all different

at least bear hats don’t need too many scraps

but inside they are a bit scrappy

Rosie’s hat matches her summer dress

it threatens to fly off, we will have to make a chin strap, like Gilbert’s

Gilbert likes his hat with the yellow brim lining and bonnet strings with a wooden bead to keep it tight

Arthur’s hat is a regular baseball style hat with a button on the top – his ears are lower so it fit nicely

made from scraps of the old jeans

Benjamin Bunny and Little Bear decided it was much easier to just wear a blossom

all dressed up they are off to a birthday party

Kate suggested that my cotton spinning experiment was a good ScrapHappy project as it is the first time she has heard of the scraps being rescued from the compost

(I’ve added the link to that post – be sure to watch the video, it’s only 2 minutes))

the spinning is almost finished with two small skeins equaling approximately 55 yards

I have spun lots of commercially prepared cotton in my 40+ years of spinning but this a first from the raw cotton boll

this plain, soft yarn is very pleasing in the hand

saved from the compost pile

here is Kate’s list of other happy scrappers


KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean (me), Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Viv

spinning cotton

spinning cotton

August 8, 2022

the heat has finally got to me!

a few years ago I purchased a stem of cotton from a flower shop and put it in a pot with other dried flowers

well, it has been around too long and was on the way to the compost pile when I decided I should try spinning it

first the woody material had to be removed and then the tedious job of pulling the fibre off the seeds

those are the seeds on the right

no wonder the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1794 was so celebrated

this one small branch produced a surprising amount of fibre

the spindle is an Akha, center whorl, light weight

the fibre is very short, soft and incredibly light – it is like spinning air

my handcarders are not fine enough so I’ve been slowly finger teasing this small pile

and then rolling it into a puni – around a short piece of bamboo which is removed before starting to spin

the absolute best cotton information I found is in Ply Magazine  – Spring 2016 “Cotton”

it is still available in either print or digital from Ply magazine at

the website is a great resource for all fibres

while researching on line I came across this reminder of how universal cotton is – have to love it!

can you smoke a pipe and spin??


bits and pieces

August 4, 2022

Little Bear is inspecting the new wheels on the bear’s cabinet

James did a great job – they even work on the carpet

although the cabinet hasn’t found a permanent home it is getting filled up

a neighbour gave me some fabric pieces – they are cotton Indonesian ikats

I studied kasuri (Japanese for ikat) at Kawashima Textile School for six months

I know how much work and designing goes into the resist dyeing technique

there is an abundance of patterns and colours, small pieces many of them long and narrow

the fabric is warp faced and a medium weight

I’m struggling with what to make, how to use them and respect the work

one piece will make a nice runner for the top of the cabinet – I’ll finish it with bias tape

many years ago we took the boys to England, their father is English and Paul was born in Portsmouth

we rented a canal boat and spent 2 weeks exploring the countryside

I was fascinated with teasels growing on the canal banks and brought home seeds

years and several properties later teasels still pop up

this one grew to 9 feet then fell over and propped itself up in the  hawthorn tree

Gilbert climbed to the top to measure it and Mousie scampered up too

both of them careful not to get stabbed by the sharp spines and prickles

finally I’ve finished eco-dyeing – the third time I put the bundle in a glass jar and left it out in the hot sun for 6 days

that’s enough!

more lessons from the earth

July 29, 2022

well my second eco-dyeing experiment produced a dull, boring pattern

so I covered it with lupine leaves and went through the process again

still lacking anything significant – so I’m preparing for a third dyeing

after the first dye the lady’s bedstraw left fine reddish marks

so I put the roots in the  pot of water used for the second steaming

when the steaming was finished a two ply skein of handspun mohair and silk went into the remaining water

but there wasn’t even a hint of pink let alone red

I think the water was too hot – madder and bedstraw (they are the same family) can be finicky that way

all this dyeing started when I was thinking about what to do for the Autumn scroll for the tokanoma

unwilling to accept defeat I dug up more roots

in the fall I’ll transplant them into better soil

the quantity and quality is not very hopeful

so after drying, then cleaning and separating the leaves there was a scant handful

I simmered them and left them overnight, straining the liquid, saving it in a second pot and starting again with clean water – three times

on alum mordanted, two ply handspun eri silk this is the colour

a soft salmon-y pinky orange – it’s better than beige

but hardly worth the effort


it’s hot

July 27, 2022

another heat wave!

what better way to escape the heat than a day on the water

off to Salt Spring Island with the family

the Captain and second mate are ready to leave

leaving the marina Kathy is giving Milo and Bentley their orders

we traveled at a reduced speed to conserve gas (it is expensive) so it took us approx. 1 – 1 1/2 cool hours

we tied up at the government dock at Ganges

and went ashore for a walk around, to give the dogs a run and get ice cream

3 single scoop cones were $20 – totally crazy

a lovely lunch onboard

can you see Bentley’s nose in the lower right corner, I think he is sniffing the cheese and salami -not the watermelon and strawberries

and then for a lovely trip home with the busy harbour behind us

I stitched the memory

what a lovely day

thank you to James, Kathy, Carrie, Milo and Bentley

nurturing the creative spark

July 22, 2022

the desire to make things is strong but at times the inspiration fades

making things, working with my hands has always been a part of who I am, since early childhood

this work hangs in my studio – mother has written that it was done when I was 3 years old

back then there was no television (let alone the internet!) and the winters were long and cold

paper dolls (who remembers them?), puzzles, stitching and later knitting occupied the time when I wasn’t playing with cousins

recently I have found it helpful to challenge myself and set creative goals

daily stitching/doodling keeps me moving forward

time is precious, hexies are forever and colour is poetry

not everything turns out the way you imagined

periods of drought are something most creative people experience, hopefully not often

I spin every day, a moving meditation ( I also meditate every day- for 30 years now)

another 175 grams of silk to keep me going

here are my musings back in 2011 and a writer who writes a haiku every day – the link still works, she is still doing it!

click on “stop-look-listen”

stop – look – listen


colour from the garden

July 20, 2022

around the world weather patterns are experiencing dramatic changes

I’ve been spending a good part of each day in the garden

talking to the birds and butterflies the flowers and the weeds

which led to experimenting with colours from nature

contact printing (or eco-dyeing) on a cotton napkin scoured and mordanted with alum

I always take a picture of the plant materials because I’ll never remember what was used

Japanese maple leaves and the little seed pods – lupin leaves – onion skins and lichen (because I know they work)

the rod is an old, rusty iron spike wrapped with the bark peeled off a new walnut tree branch – both can act as another mordant

rolled up and tied tightly, steamed for approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours and then left patiently untouched for a week

it is always a surprise – the maple leaves gave the pink/purple

perhaps the lupin gave the greeny-yellow – will have to do some experimenting

that is what makes this process fun

so then I tried a light weight piece of cotton

this time using

more lupin and maple leaves – St. John’s Wort flowers – lady’s mantle (alchemilla mollis)

 the roots from lady’s bedstraw  (galium verum) and blossoms from dark purple hollyhock

the bedstraw roots are a tradition red dye, they are almost thread like, tedious to dig and dry and I’m not sure they will work as a contact dye

shown on the first napkin, steamed and waiting impatiently

in these troubled times the garden is my escape

take care out there and stay cool



Scrap Happy July 2022

July 14, 2022

 finally, it is hot and sunny, Rosie wanted a summer outfit

as she is a sitting bear and doesn’t have movable arms and legs she is rather round in the middle

designing and sewing clothes is difficult

 a quick lesson from an expert and a practice pair of undies made from some old sheeting provided a pattern for overalls

extra fabric is needed to accommodate a bear’s bottom

one leg from an old, favorite pair of jeans, a contrasting scrap for a pocket, a couple buttons from the button jar

and Rosie is a fashion diva

there is even a fancy lining for the bib and pretty pink lining in the pocket

buttons at the waist help with the fit – I wouldn’t mind a pair myself

the jeans had several layers of patches and the pocket on one knee begged to be re-used

Arthur is the senior bear and the most reliable, he wanted a backpack to carry the food on group picnics

it is also useful when he goes painting in the park

I thought he had decided to run away

but he was going to visit his girlfriend who lives down the road

taking flowers and carrots- he informed me that bears love carrots

two beary happy bears!

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean(me), Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Viv

happy days

July 11, 2022

when you get – older – and retired time can slip away

that’s my excuse anyway

yesterday was son James’ birthday and I mistakenly thought it was today – apologies James

Happy, happy Birthday

21 years ago – Carrie had just arrived – time does go on

now she can bake the cake!