La Manche

Went for a hike yesterday with some friends. Our plan had been to pick up the East Coast Trail in La Manche, and head from there to Tors Cove and back. We had a little trouble finding the trailhead, though. We wound up strolling through La Manche Provincial Park, finding a trail, and making a shorter, improvised hike out of that one.[1] There was a river, and a little waterfall, and sundry beaver-gnawed sticks[2], and neat rocks.

It was a good day.

[1] On the way back to town, we detoured through St. Michael’s and Seal Cove and Bauline East, and happened to find a trailhead in there. So if/when we go back, we will have at least one official East Coast Trail section to head out across.

[2] Beavers leave really neat textures on wood.

Happy New Year!

So. The little Sputnik kiln didn’t heat up (or rather, didn’t heat up high enough, or quickly enough), so we assayed enamelling via torch instead. Pointing the flame down onto the enamel made the colour go quite grey/black (introcuding carbon into the enamel, maybe?), but heating from underneath worked fine and dandy. So now I have two appollonian gasket pendants, a small green and copper-leftovers pendant, and two earrings which, although both enamelled with something called “copper green”, turned out red and turquoisey blue, respectively. Very interesting. The exposed copper parts still need to be polished and waxed, but otherwise, my jewellery experiments for this trip are probably over. It was fun.

And last night there was a party at Denzil and Anna’s place. Some old friends, and lots of newer ones. Happy dogs[1], oddly fun party games, and good food.

It’s been a great holiday.

[1] Well, until the fireworks went off, anyways. But they got happy quickly enough afterwards.

Christmas Holidays!

I am on holiday until January 3rd. Wee!

There was Christmas, which came with parties and music and foooood. Also, books. Which I must now add to my list of Things To Turn Into Teacups, but I don’t mind because they are all lovely books so far.

Right now I’m visiting some friends, Jason and Roz. We came out on the 27th, and so far I’ve made some stamps from textured glass in their kitchen and attic, planned a gingerbread Gothic cathedral[1], started another teacup[2], and played around with their jewelry tools. I have my appollonian gasket pendant planned out and all the pieces cut out, and several of the pieces have holes and such drilled into them so I can make the scraps into jewelry as well. And tonight or tomorrow, I will get to try my hand at enamelling for the first time. I am so excited I could burst.

[1] You know it’s a Gothic one because of the flying buttresses.

[2] There’s a Neil Gaiman anthology of short stories and poetry called Fragile Things[3], and a few days ago I was thinking of NCECA and the things I learned there, and happened to remember a lecture on slip-dipping by two grad students who make installations out of clay-permeated textiles and fibres. So last night, while we watched a movie[4], I crocheted a lace teacup. And today I stuffed it into a bucket of porcelain slip that Jason had kicking around for reasons slightly mysterious to me. And at some point I hope to have a very fragile lace porcelain teacup.

[3] Astute readers may have noticed that I now have three Neil Gaiman books translated/translating into teacup form. This is because I have a lot of his work. He writes amazing, wonderful, occasionally creepy but always satisfying stories, and I recommend you check him out.

[4] Dodgeball.


My friend Roz came over last night with a bottle of chocolate port and a bag of fabric and buttons, and we made little bird ornaments. I made some sitting ones, and she made two singing ones, with accompanying music notes. I haven’t decided yet whether I want to leave mine as they are or add some sort of hanging doohickey. We’ll see.

They’re super easy to make, if you’re feeling inclined yourself. Just draw out the outline of a bird, use that as a template to cut out some birdy shapes. (If you use pinking shears, the fabric won’t fray.) Sew birdy shapes together; stuff with scraps. Add wings, feathers, eyes, etc. as the desire strikes.

Happy Birthday, Papa!

Today was my dad’s 52nd birthday. We actually managed to get the whole family together for it, which is not something that usually happens[1]. We had some very tasty wine, and two kinds of curry, and naan, and rice and rhubarb cheesecake. It was fun.

And tomorrow I get to take off for Amherst Cove for the weekend. I shall be leaving studio and clay behind to go… well, to go play in another studio with different clay, actually. And hopefully hike or poke around Bonavista (I’ve never been!) or something, too.

Don’t know if I’ll have a chance to update again until Monday. See you all on the other side of a hopefully sunny[2] and fun weekend!

[1] The last two birthday celebrations have been about a month after the actual birthdays, thanks to us all being stupidly busy people.

[2] I can dream, can’t I?!

So… much… awesome.

I made the ultimate mistake of joining Ravelry yesterday afternoon. The rest of the day, and a good chunk of the night, was spent in knitting pattern overdose. Socks, lacy socks, looong socks, chunky cardigans, herringbone skirts, TARDIS socks, Longcat scarves, Totoro mittens… So many things to make, and so little time to do it in.

I have promised myself that I will finish the socks I started last year before starting a new project. I only have another few inches left.

The fact Wool Trends and A Good Yarn, my favourite wool supply establishments, are both closed on Mondays may even force me to keep that promise.

Craft Fair: The End

I finished my socks! And I grafted the toe on the last one (under Christine’s supervision) without any mistakes this time.

As to the fair itself… I sold out of Robot mugs entirely. I sold several Robot tumblers[1], and a few of everything else. I got a bunch of commissions (most of which are thrown and drying), and a shiny new wholesale client. I am rich beyond my pessimistic dreams, and even some of my realistic dreams. I traded for two new pairs of earrings, didn’t lose all my profits to the chocolate booth, and was still capable of standing and talking coherently the day after. All in all, it was a great fair.

[1] A “tumbler” is what we in the pottery business like to call it to make it sound impressive. A more accurate name would be “mug whose handle cracked off in drying.”

The Christmas Craft Fair

Set Up Day:
Mostly spent waiting for paint to dry. No, really. Had left painting of sign to Wednesday; organized sign and paint cans on Arts and Culture Centre lawn around 1:00, applied magical[9] primer, then discovered magical primer cannot be removed from brush with water. Left to find paint thinner, cleaned brush, returned. Painted coat of blue. Wandered around a bit, eventually decided blue would not dry outside (it was cold and not so sunny by then), wrestled sign indoors and hung[1] it up. Set up rest of booth. Waited around another while; once blue was dry, added “Blue Dragon Clay” in mostly authentic[2][3] 15th century Gothic script. Left around six or seven.

Day One:
Snuck in early to stencil a blue dragon onto sign. Sold a Robot mug straight away to Erin McArthur, who buys a mug at the start of every craft fair she attends and uses it for the duration of the show. Sold several more Robot things and one cephalopot pate dish. Otherwise, fairly slow day.

Got some knitting done. Geeked knittery and yarns with Vicky Taylor-Hood[4] and Rilla Marshall. Noticed a few other people knitting; after so long keeping busy for this event, I guess we don’t know how to stand still anymore. Had to ask Molly the Hooker for help with turning the heel.

Have a kettle set up behind some of the pole and drape. Offer various teas, sugar and honey to fellow vendors; they can even use a mug, so long as they wash it out and put the price tag back on before returning it[8].

Day Two:
Knitting has spread. Erin, me, Rilla, someone from Rattling Books, Donna Clouston, Urve Manuel, and Molly White have hats, socks, and something that may or may not be a sweater underway. Most of the professional knitters are happily taking a break, except for one who is crocheting a giant granny square, and another who just can’t seem to stop making mittens.

Sold more than on the first day. Got an order for twelve(!) three-piece table settings. Also, a new wholesale customer.

Finished my sock, except for grafting the toe, which every knitter consulted avoids doing, can’t remember how to do, or doesn’t want to explain while busy with her booth. “Just search YouTube for it; there’s loads of how-tos there.”

Day Three:
Sock-knitter extraordinaire, Christine LeGrow, is back! Booth had been manned in her absence by Derrick, a lovely man who is unfortunately useless at turning a heel or grafting a toe. She showed me how to do it. Then I messed up, and she whisked my sock away to fix, despite feeble protestations of “But I know how now; I can undo it myself! You don’t have to bother!” because she is very particular about socks, and about toes especially, and if it were known that she had been involved in the grafting of a bumpy sock toe she would have exploded from shame and frustration. She did compliment my tension, though, which is awesome because that’s what I have the most trouble with usually.

Sales quite brisk in morning and afternoon. Only three Robot mugs left, and very limited selection of colours for other Robot things. Other lines selling too, but much more slowly in comparison.

Got another wholesale order, from the afore-mentioned Janet Davis.

Was visited by various family members; some brought food, and youngest brother and girlfriend even brought teas. They know me well.

Got as far as the instep on the second sock.

The heat produced by floodlights and bodies, combined with fatigue and the extended stay in a closed environment, has made people go a bit silly. One woman was reportedly seen towards the end of the day with her knitting on her head, needles pointing up like antennae, and a bit of fleece on her chin like a beard. I do not know why.

Day four is tomorrow. Wish me luck, sanity, and smooth grafting.

[1] Thank you to Michelle Lambert‘s dad for holding up one end.
[2] Thank you to Peter Sobol for the lend of a stepladder.
[3] I say “mostly” because the C in Clay is a little wider than it should be.
[4] Who owns the teeniest umbrella[5] ever.
[5] The kind for making skeins of wool into balls of wool, not the kind for keeping you dry in the rain.[6]
[6] Those never work here anyways.[7]
[7] The kind for keeping you dry, I mean. The rain isn’t usually vertical enough for that.
[8] Sold one mug that way. :-)
[9] It lets you paint latex over oil. I had no idea such a thing existed.

Fort Amherst to Freshwater Bay

Hike post, as promised.

My friend Matthew is in town for the summer, and as we both had nothing to do Thursday, we took a hike. “I’ve never walked that trail,” said I, pointing across the harbour a few days earlier. “How about we do that one?”

So he made some sandwiches and I brought the date turnovers and we set out just after noon. The start of the trail is uphill. Very aggressively uphill. Like, I-hike-an-hour-up-Torbay-Road-every-day-and-I-ran-out-of-breath-three-steps-in-uphill. Just when you think you can’t go any higher, there’s more up. And then some more.

And at the top, for reasons unknown, there’s a little pond and a dam. We poked at it with some sticks, and parts of it are decently deep; it would probably make a nice little swimming hole.

Once you’ve gotten up on top of the Southside Hills, they’re a really nice spot for a stroll. We saw pink ladies’ slipper orchids all over the place, some whales, a beaver lodge, some moose and fox(?) tracks, bog cotton…

We even found this:

But there were no ducks.[1]

Eventually, the trail started angling downhill. We went along, stopping by a merry stream so picturesque it just cries out for a bunch of hobbits on a quest to splash through it.

There was a slight uptick post-stream, and then a lot of downhill. I started to get worried. My knees were starting to go a little wobbly, and my legs still had to carry me back home whenever we decided to turn around and convert the downhill back to an uphill (which I had been looking forward to not walking any more of that day). But there was an interesting-looking bay coming up, and it didn’t look sooo far away, and by now we were surely halfway down anyways, so we kept going. And going. And going. Three times along I thought to myself, “Okay, but we’re halfway down by now. We may as well keep on.” I think it was only the last time that I had accurately gauged the size of the hill.

Eventually, we came out of the trees, and ate the last sandwich on the cliffs overlooking what Google Maps assures me is Freshwater Bay.

There was a neat-looking barachois further up the bay, but we left it for another day. We’d done a lot of meandering and poking at things and sitting down for lunch (and second lunch, and threesies, and tea, and…) so it was getting late. (Also, the thought of going down, thereby adding even more up to our walk home, was making my legs quiver in terror.)

We got back, poked around the accessible parts of the fort, and got to the car just before the rain, which had been slowly marshalling forces all day, decided to come down.

[1] Incidentally, the latest series of Doctor Who is fabulously funny, creepy, and exhilarating. I am very happy with Mr. Moffatt and everyone else on their creative team. And I may very well burst of impatience and yearning before the Christmas Special.