I shouldn't be doing this... tomorrow I'm driving to Italy and I have prepared 'nothing'.
I'm at the stage of denial which will be followed by the frantic stage and then the panic stage.
Anyway... briefly and few more quilts for you. Incidentally I stumbled upon the American MQG blog and read all about the 'derivative' quilts saga. When is a derivative quilt a derivative quilt? When it's simply a quilt inspired by? when it is indeed a copy of? What happens when people come out with the same idea at the same time? Mind boggling and totally subjective subject... Very difficult to sort out that one I fear.
I'm not going into it here because I'm still thinking where I'm standing on that one.
My favourite quilts by far - and the ones I spent the majority of my time looking at - were the ones from the "European Quilt Triennial'
Here's but a few:
There were more... and all wonderful... and I keep picking up the catalogue and dreaming of experimenting...
For now though there are suitcases to pack and a beds to change and a dog to walk and a dishwasher to empty/refill and ...
It's totally typical (and annoyingly ironic, if you're a fan of Alanis Morissette you'll understand) that the time the Festival steps up a gear I have only three hours to spend there.
Not enough by a long way.
After disposing of the three boys (well, one was left in bed, one sold to the gardener as cheap labour and another off to cricket trials) I bombed it to the Festival and spent the little time I had wondering around like a drunk fly from exhibition to exhibition filling my head with ideas and inspiration and not being able to pay enough attention to anything.
For the first time (I might be wrong... I can't remember it being the case last time I went) the quilts were split into well defined categories: modern, traditional, and art quilts. Which helped. I kind of skipped the traditional section and was very much interested in the other two... what's new? what's cooking? what's trending out there.
Then my camera ran out of battery. Of course.
And then my phone storage got full. Of course.
So I have a few photos of things that caught my eye and the list is by any means comprehensive...
Indigo was a big thing.
The yellow part were actually painted which was a surprise... I like the sun especially.
on the beach with Maggie (Linda Fovey)
Storm at sea (Pam Stallebrass)
What lies beneath (Sandra Meech)
Another 'trend' (I do hate that word) was the use of photos as background. I'd like to try that.
Elements (Hilary Beattie)
Gateways (Hilary Beattie)
Kaffe Fassett had a small exhibition of his vintage quilts (which were totally gorgeous/quilt envy/etc. etc.)
scrap busting heaven.
Aaaaaand I think this is enough for now... digest this and come back for more if you dare!
Tonight No 1 is going to a party invited by a friend he hadn't seen in four months, taking place in a less than salubrious part of town (from which I then have to pick him up late even though they thought walking back was perfectly fine....)... and the party is called "neon party".
Should I be scared?
Am I irresponsible?
The naivety of 15yr old boys is at the same time charming and terrifying.
(from the series 'photos found on my camera': feet #1)
No 2's voice has cracked. The onion smell phase will soon begin if he follows his brother. Then there will be girls who appear from nowhere and scary parties and endless showers and over generous body spray administrations and moodiness and no speaking and I'm not ready for this AGAIN!
(from the series 'photos found on my camera': feet #2)
No 3 got his first phone today. He's as happy as a pig in *&%^. Seriously... he's so happy it's the cutest thing... and it's not a fancy one full of bells and whistle but he can do Instagram and maybe, just maybe, he'll be the one to unravel the mysteries of snapchat to me, something his older brothers have insofar refused to do. I'm too old and none of my friend have it anyway... apparently... and it would be weird.
(from the series 'photos found on my camera': foot #1)
I feel old.
And i'm trying very hard not to stare and weep at the grey roots on my head, thanking the gods my colourist apt is tomorrow so I can pretend I don't have grey hair (I wonder if she'll colour my eyebrows too? I noticed a couple of shining strands earlier when in the car. By the way... why is the car mirror so damned unforgiving? Evil thing.)
*amended: Mr M dropped them off. It looked innocent... lots of girls with very short skirts...
So my knitting goal is to knit myself a new jumper/cardigan whatever each year. Which sounds easy... and it would be if it was my only knitting endeavour, the problem is I get distracted by shawls and hats and quilting and a spot of crochet so it's really hard to get to one big finished item per winter.
It's August and I've just finished last winter's project: the glorious and clever "Sous Sous" (pattern designed for Loop London by Nora Gaughan. You can download it from their website or Ravelry.
I really wanted to finish it and take it away for those chilly Canadian evenings... but life got too crazy and with 20 min of knitting still do do I had to admit defeat and get on with packing something else. On Saturday though, during a rare lifting of the jet-lag cloud (still lingering at the horizon I have to say) I sat down and finished the bloody thing.
And I sewed it up too.
A real miracle.
I was really worried it wouldn't fit... but it does and while it's not perfect, I like it enough that I know it'll get worn a lot.
It's warm, very warm and light. However I used Rowan felted tweed DK instead of the much more expensive recommended yearn and it doesn't have the same level of drape. And that is my main bugbear.
I love how tight the sleeves are and that it covers my bottom, I am however totally annoyed at myself for the different in gauge between the back (nicely tight) and the front (loosey goosey)... What was I thinking???? What was I doing????
I'm hoping that once I get to wear it (bit hot right now) it'll soften and mellow.
All in all? very pleased though. It wasn't an easy knit... count this, do this whilst keeping count of that and increasing here whilst counting there...
Some books change the world and make you dream and believe in magic.
Today I took No 3 to the Harry Potter Studios near London... and we had a fabulous time... this is a boy who's not prone to flight of fantasy, he's sporty and has lots of friends, he's a practical soul with feet firmly planted in the ground... and yet.
Yet... yet, he devoured the books. He dreams of magical creatures and spells, and in a place which, let's face it, is actually there to explain how the on-screen magic was created and wasn't in fact real... he was a total believer. When he sat on a 'Nimbus 2001', wearing a black gown and staring at a tv screen with a fan in his face... he WAS flying. When he walked into that huge lunch hall his eyes were shining and excited like it was his first day at Hogwarts. When he held that (stupidly expensive) wand in his hand all the way home... he WAS making up spells.
Don't tell me that is not magic.
And there's always 'that' split second moment when you think you're really going to get through that wall... just once, by magic.
(no? just me? can't be...)
When he drank his (teeth shuttering sweet) glass of butterbeer... he WAS in the Leaky Cauldron and not sitting opposite me in a drafty coffee area with a trapped pigeon banging its head against the glass to get out.
And it wasn't down to the props or the set in front of him. Absolutely not. It was down to the books he's been reading till late at night for the past few months. Black words on white pages. Igniting dreams and creating visions. All this today was just the icing on the cake... proof almost that what he read was 'real'. Magically real.
I've been to see the Studios twice before and everytime there's something new to see... This time we could get a glimpse on an internal set of No 4 Privet Drive.
But my favourite part of all must be the model of Hogwarts Castle...
I'm totally jet-lagged. And I mean totally. My hair is jet-lagged. My toes are.
I have been literally falling asleep before my head hits the pillow (to the point I have no recollection of actually having even gone to bed) and then in the middle of the night, around 4am... PING... awake. But not fully awake, not alert, ready to hit the day running, productive-awake... oh noooo. That would be ok. No, we're talking zombie awake, 'light is on but nobody is home' awake, tossing and turning with heavy eyelids and stir crazy legs awake. It's very frustrating.
I have officially fallen in love with trees. I miss the old growth forest, untouched, eternal, mysterious of Vancouver Island. I miss the pines (firs?) of the Canadian Rockies... I miss them all.
I need to learn about trees, something that will make my dad very happy; he's been trying to teach me the difference between 'pine' and 'firs' since I can remember ... needless (ha ha joke, see what I've done here?) to say I still don't know. When we were admiring the trees in Cathedral Grove this kind lady gave me a crash course in telling the difference between a hemlock and a cedar... but it's gone. It stayed in my head for approximately five minutes. Also I always thought that hemlock was the herb that killed Socrates so I was really confused. (By the way... it is... just a different kind of hemlock. Whatever)
Thanks to the wonderful community of bloggers and instagrammers I was introduced to "The golden spruce" by John Valiant, a wonderful book that had me totally gripped. I kept quoting facts and line to Mr M which might have got a little fed up by the end.
I have reached the end of the holiday washing. Let's crack open a bottle of bubbly, shall we? I had all the clothes piled in the corridor as they wouldn't have fitted in the tiny laundry room: darks, whites, dark colours, light colours. Even No 2 was shocked and told me he felt sorry for me. Obviously not sorry enough to offer to help me... but at least he's showing some empathy, right?
I have no idea where this weird compulsion of taking pictures of one's feet has come from. Quite addictive.
(my feet are the same size as my 10yr old. Sigh.
And now, whilst the house is still quite, I'm going to knit the last two rows of my last sleeve of the jumper that should have been finished before the holidays. I'm in the mood to get rid of some whips... watch this space...
Mr M still not on top of his game so whilst the two younger ones looked after him (... not... they used him as an excuse to stay behind), No 1 and I went on another expedition.
Takakkaw Falls. (Best name btw)
A short drive from Moraine Lake (short in Canadian terms... make it 50 minutes... which is huge in English terms, right?), it's really worth a visit. You can't actually see the top of the fall but it measures 387m. Seven times the height of Niagara falls. Bonkers.
And you can walk right near its bottom (treacherous and don't get too close... you get swept away by the fast river and next you know you're singing with the angels) and get totally sprayed by the mist.
Which, if you're sad like me, it's totally exciting.
And your fifteen yr old son will walk away embarrassed. We're at that stage in our relationship, obvs.
In the afternoon we mooched around Banff (nice place, although I'm totally kicking myself for not seeing the Hudson Bay Company store till we were driving home... doh!) and then ended our holiday at the hot springs.
I think No 3 took pity of me because he decided to accompany me on a little hike (5.8Km return from Moraine Lake, piffles) to Consolation Lakes.
A gently climbing path through the forests leads to this gorgeous clear lake.
We dipped our feet (yes No 3 has very big feet) in the glacial waters because let's face it, you don't get the chance to do that very often, right? (also... just as well... your feet feel like they're being squeezed into a vice)
Can you see the tiny boat on the lake? A group of scientist were taking their yearly measurement... keeping an eye on lake transparency and water level and so on. Not a bad day at the office I say!
We left Jasper under a beautiful blue sky and I promised myself I'd be back. We stayed at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge and I can totally recommend it. The location is beautiful, the accommodation is spacious and it has an old charm that makes you feel immediately at home. The boys loved the heated pool and the games room.
As I said before, we didn't stay long enough.
But the road.... oh the road to Banff is a sight to behold.
Mountains and glaciers and river beds, incredible views around every corner...
We bumped into an 'elk jam' just out of Jasper (blurry photo taken from the moving car).
First stop: Edith Calvell Glacier. Stunning. Short hike to the milky blue glacier fed lake.
Yes the water was cold.
That's an understatement.
Can you see the little people on the lake shore? Everything here is bigger than you think...
Next stop: Athabasca Falls
A bit crowded, but it's high season and a lot of the places are.
We then looked for a place to picnic and found Buck Lake by chance. What an idyllic spot... sigh...
here's my tribe chilling and eating (which let's be honest are their two favourite activities... sloths...)
After lunch it was more miles of stunning scenery.
I can't get enough of this place. The immense space. The mountains.
(That's called Endless Ridge)
and this is the Athabasca river... at least I think it is... given that we then bumped into the Athabsca glacier... huge thing...
You can see my three 'scale props' (aka my children) in the foreground building towers with rocks. Maybe next Christmas I'll buy them all a huge lorry full of rocks... they seem to have a compulsion to pile them up wherever they go.
AND THEN... WE FINALLY SAW A BEAR!!
A real life Yoghi bear eating berries by the side of the road.
Or more accurately... on the overnight train to Jasper.
Last night we returned the car and took a cab to the station. (The taxi driver told me his brother lives in England... an hour from where we live. Hashtag small world.)
'The Canadian' took us all the way to Jasper and it was great fun. Sleeping on the train was great - the rocking is perfect and you have your little cocoon of a space full of pockets and nooks and crannies for your things, loved it -, the food was great too
(this was breakfast) and whilst the train itself could have done perhaps with a refurb... the staff were great and it was wonderful to sit back and watch the world roll by.
Well, some of us looked out of the window ...
... not all...
We arrived in Jasper early afternoon and got settled quickly so that the husband and I could fit a refreshing walk before dinner
I'm still waiting to see a bear... in the meantime this little squirrel is kind of cute...
Last morning in Whistler and whilst No 1 hurled himself down the mountain on a bike, the rest of us went up the mountain in the Gondola.
The weather did not play ball.
This the view from the gondola.
If you can call it 'view'.
This is No 3 doing is best to convince me the weather outside was just fine...
And this is very atmospheric view from the Peak to Peak gondola. By all accounts its an awesome ride.
... just a tad spooky when you can't see anything!
After retrieving a very muddy No 1 child (but happy and smiling so that's fine) we drove back to Vancouver.
Next stop the Capitano suspension bridge.
(in the sun!)
(and with lots people)
(and extremely wobbly. Just saying(
Gorgeous park full of tall walkaways high up on the trees...
And I mean tall!!
but the trees.... oh the trees...
"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life" (herman hesse)
Another new activity... canoeing. Another notch in our adventure belt. Another big YES!
The weather was glorious... unexpectedly (don't you love it when the forecast is wrong this way round?)
My camera was safely tucked away in a dry bag so you'll have to be happy with that wonky picture and trust me when I say it was glorious.
In the afternoon Mr M took No 3 zip-lining whilst me and the other two non-adrenaline junkies went looking for the famous Whistler train wreck.
(disused train line... I think)
This place is not on the official trail maps but everybody knows about it. We struggled a bit to find it... but it was totally worth it. Suddenly you stumble in 4 or 5 derailed train carriages in the middle of the forest that have been covered in cool graffiti and it's totally bonkers.
The boys sampled the delights of downhill mountain biking whilst Mr M and I mooched about the place waiting to see if they'd came back in one piece. When they attach a label to your child with a barcode, your name and emergency number just in case they knock themselves unconscious AND the bikes have a computer that records their location in case they fall off a cliff.... you know it's serious, right?
Anyway, they all got back safely. Splattered in mud head to toes, totally knackered but grinning ear to ear.
After lunch they all took the shuttle back to the hotel (wimps) whilst I decided to walk the 4Km back. The sun was shining and it was a lovely walk.
Along the lake and by gorgeous villas (I always enjoy walking through residential areas when I'm abroad)
And then... then we heard about Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds (the creative mind behind the brilliant band Oasis) playing at the Pemberton Music Festival nearby and managed to get tickets and left the kids at the hotel and had an unexpected date night and a fantabulous time!
(For all of you that are now totally horrified, we didn't lock them in the room. No 1 is 15 and very responsible. AND we had had offered them the chance to come too and got turned down. We're not horrible parents, I promise you!!)
oh my what an awesome concert.
And the location... a huge flat valley surrounded by snowcapped peaks. Awesome.
The headlining act were Pearl Jam (... ahem... can't say I'd heard of them before but I was totally the only person there not to know them)
so we stayed for a while before catching the bus back to Whistler
A cloudy start to the day but that didn't stop us in our first ever kayaking adventure.
This awesome fellow kept an eye on us as we sailed quietly around Ucluelet bay
(side note: sharing a kayak with a ten yr old who thinks 'paddling' is for wimps... is really hard work)
We all loved kayaking, and nobody fell in the water. Success!
After a quick lunch in the village and a visit to the 'catch and release' aquarium...
... we headed back to base camp in Cox Bay. Mr M and No 3 went off with a bucket on a crab hunting mission, No 1 and No 2 vegetate for a few hours and I took a long walk from one end to the bay to the next.
And a spot of crochet.
Cocktails and frisbee at sunset to end a most amazing stay.
When we got to the docks it was misty and grey, wolves howled in the distance.
Amazing to hear, such a wild sound. Mesmerising.
we travelled in the water surrounding Tofino, Browning Passage, Clayquot sound, Meares Island.
Incidentally: did you know that the rainforest on Meares Island has been growing untouched/unlogged since the last Ice Age? Yup, 10,000 years.
Enough to make you feel pretty damn small, I'd say.
We saw bald eagles, seals, and a grey whale. And big lion mane jelly fish.
And let the cool salty air blew away the last vestige of 'real' world left in us.
After lunch (salmon tacos, yum, at the Wildside Grill in Tofino) we dragged the boys (kicking and screaming, literally, in one case...) on a walk down to Ucluelet - coolest name) Sound.
The Lighthouse loop is awesome (Canadians like to say 'awesome' a lot, I'm trying to fit in), even if you have a moaning 10yr old in tow who thinks that walking is boring 'because the only thing you do is walk'. Whatever, don't listen to him.
It's a circular walk of only 2.6Km with spectacular views of the ocean.
Apparently it's even more 'awesome' during a storm when the huge ocean waves smash against the rocks below.
Cox Bay, where we're staying is a big surfing location so the boys took a surf lesson (from an instructor from Cambridge, England... whatever, the world is smaller than I think) and they were awesome.
Talk about 'dudes'.
here's two of them... probably the other one is under water at that precise moment... but hey, I was trying to keep cool.
(Actually I was freezing. I merely put my feet in that water and I barely avoided amputation for frost bites. Geeez Louise that water was cold!)
So cool. I get the whole 'surfing cool' thang... I just don't feel the 'call of the surf' myself. Sands gets everywhere, wetsuits are not flattering if your legs are shorter than 8ft and the salt really plays havoc with your hair...
Still... Keanu Reeves... point break... sigh...
In the afternoon whilst Mr M watched No 3 in the water for another two hours (the Duracell bunny is nothing compared to him) my and the other two went for a little hike nearby to Long beach (location for a few scenes of the film New Moon (not ashamed to say I loved the whole Twilight saga. Team Edward, always) and Schooner Bay:
So, so beautiful.
From the beach there's an amazing 1Km boardwalk trail amongst the rainforest and once again it's magical.
I have to say... these forests are something else, so dense and full of life... and OLD. I swear you can feel how old and wise they are... there' is definitively 'something' there. Something spiritual, magical... something.
... even though these two were doing their best to ridicule my idea...
In the evening we caught one of the famous Tofino sunsets (Cox Bay faces West you see...)