Resolutions V.5.1 - More Pottery!

This is my favourite little set from my attempts at pottery this year. I loved this combination of glazes. They were dipped in midnight blue with red/green glaze dipped overtop. If you decide to take a pottery class I would suggest using your first separates to find out what glaze combinations you like and then focus on making a set. Part of the reason I love my cream and sugar containers so much is because they are more usable than the random stuff I started out making. You have to start somewhere though!

I ended up making a few bowls but only got to make one plate and I was kicking myself as they are so easy! Excellent for using left over clay!

Another functional piece I made was a simple spoon rest. I made a small plate and then pushed one section out flat. I love the simplicity and if I take the class again everyone will be getting them for Christmas.

These are a few of my first wheel attempts..... not very good at all! Lopsided and uneven. I did use them to try out some glazes though!


Medicine Lake, Alberta

Last weekend we took a little road trip into the Rocky Mountains. It was a scorching hot weekend so our time was mostly spent lake hopping. We decided to head up to Maligne Lake. The road is winding and beautiful and takes you by Medicine Lake (pictured here). As we drove up into the peaks we ran into not one...not two... but three separate bears! We only stopped to take photos of one since he was a safe distance from the car. The others were literally less than a stones throw from the road.

That didn't seem to deter people from getting out and walking their kids less than 5 feet from it!! I was honestly shocked with the stupidity of people repeatedly on this little trip when it came to wild life! In what universe is walking you or your child up to a wild black bear ok?! No universe.

Anyways! These photos were safely shot from the vehicle with the zoom lens 100% zooming!


Elk Island National Park - Part 2

After our walk around the lake we finally came to the other side and eye to eye with a herd of buffalo.  We knew there was a chance to see them but after 2 hours of no wildlife we figured we were out of luck. They were generally uninterested in us. Some would stare as they chewed away and we kept a safe distance. 


In The Garden V.6 - Rhubarb

This is our rhubarb plant. It is huge! It was left to it own devices for about five years and only in the last couple years we have been harvesting. I noticed that down wind there are at least another eight rhubarbs starting up so we are well on our way to being rhubarb farmers.

You want to pick the rhubarb when the bottoms are nice and red. Just pull on the stems lightly and they should break right off. I made a delicious rhubarb/strawberry crisp (from here) and then packed up the rest of my haul in freezer bags. I only froze three bags worth which didn't even make a dent in the plant but you don't want to excessively harvest as the left overs create compost for next year. If you do have a rhubarb and you don't have space for it to reproduce just wait for the seeds to sprout and cut off that stem before they start falling. 

To freeze give them a wash and cut off the leafy tops where it starts to go from red to green. Some people suggest peeling the stalks but I find this way to messy so I just start chopping into 1" sections. As you chop you will notice the stringy top layer gets loosened and you can just pull it off rather than covering your entire house in rhubarb splatters! You do need to blanch your rhubarb before freezing it so drop them in some boiling water for a minute or so and then an ice bath before they go into the freezer bags. I had to do a couple batches. Suck the air out with a straw and they will stay fresh for months. 

Afterwards put your cuttings back under the plant for compost and don't just dump out that nice rhubarb-y flavoured water you blanched in. Let it cool and use it to make rhubarb lemonade! It is so refreshing on a hot day!


Elk Island National Park - Part 1

On Canada Day last week we decided to go for a little hike in Elk Island Park. It was definitely one to remember.

We started out along what we thought was going to be a lakeside trail but after a brief glimpse at the beginning we didn't see the lake until we got to the full other end...2 hours later. That first half of the walk was fine and dandy. It was very hot out but the woods shaded us enough that it wasn't too uncomfortable. We then got to the large open grasslands we had to cross to get to the other side of the lake for the walk back. It was scorching in this big open space so we stopped for another drink before we carried on to the other side. There were lots of animal trails in the grassy area and somewhere along the way we veered off the hiking trail (which really isn't well marked in the first place) and onto an animal trail which lead us way out of the way and into a bog. An awful smelly bog. Towers of mosquitos then converged onto us. Deep Woods had no effect. We ran in an attempt to stop ourselves from going batty with the biting and buzzing. While running my shoes sunk into the bog and I ran right out of them! David went back and got them for me even though I was fully prepared to walk back shoeless if it meant no more mosquitos. Now I had bog soaked feet in bog soaked socks in bog soaked shoes and I smelt awful. After about an hour running away from bogs we gave up on finding the trail at the other side of the grasslands and made our way back to trail we came in on. Another 2 hours later and some mild heat exhaustion we made it back to the car!

I am not made for hot weather!

These photos are from the fine and dandy first part of the walk. Next week I will have part 2 of the grassy area with the special wildlife we ran into! There is no photographic evidence of the walk back as I was too distraught! Ha!

Cool hat.


What June Looked Like

I can't believe it's already July! June saw the last of the trees blooming and brought us well into gardening season. We had a bit of rough weather (including lovely thunder storms) so we have some sad cucumbers and lost a few spaghetti squashes but all in all the garden is going great. I finished my pottery class and will share my final projects soon. David finished up with the school and he is summer vacation now... I am so very jealous! Hopefully July will bring us a few trips and adventures. I am in dire need of a break from work. We need some breathing space if I want to stay sane. Last week we went for a little hike out of the city so I hope that will set the tone for an adventurous summer!  How was your June?


Getting into Knitting: From a Beginner's Perspective

Beginner Knitter Thoughts:

I made a goal for myself to learn nalbinding this year. Long ago a kind co-worker tried to teach me to knit and it didn't turn out well despite my love of sewing and crafting. Youthful impatience perhaps? So when I was thinking about what I should learn this year I decided on nalbinding not knowing that it would lead me back down the knitting path. I am a beginner knitter in all sense of the word and have primarily just made practice squares, scarves, and circle scarves but I thought I could give some very beginner insight into getting "reluctantly" started with knitting!

Where to buy:

When I first decided I wanted to get into knitting I was a little apprehensive on what I should buy or how much I should spend when I was looking to knitting supplies. I didn't want to splurge if I ended up not enjoying it again. I decided to hit up the nearest second hand store and the knitting section did not disappoint! Needles for $0.69 and bags of yarn for no more that $3. I would highly recommend going the second hand route because if you decide knitting isn't for you, you've only invested a fiver in it! So far all my needles are from Value Village with the exception of my wooden round needles (BUT I had a 50% off coupon at Michaels so I thought I would go wild). It did take a couple of trips to amass my good deals but it was definitely worth it. Besides when you are just starting out you definitely don't need everything at once.

What to get:

Large wooden needles: By far the easiest to learn on. My problem at first was making my knit so tight (on small metal needles) I couldn't even continue on with it but switching to large wooden needles make it so so much easier to learn on! I am definitely a bit fan of the wooden needles!

Large wooden circular needles: After you have practices on your straight needles for awhile you are going to want to make something a bit different. I am a huge fan of circle scarves and they are so easy to make with the circular needles!

Second hand yarn: While you learn you will inevitably waste some yarn. For practising I used second hand wool. When I decided I was confident enough to make a circle scarf I would actually wear I bought some nice soft wool from Michaels (with a coupon of course!).

Double Pointed Needles (DPNs): After you've mastered your circular needles and straight needles you will most likely need to get a set of DPN's for socks and mittens. I would have preferred these to be wood also because I find them very sticky but you can't beat $0.69 to practice on! There is a way to use your circular needles to create the smaller round knits as well but I haven't used that method yet.

Accessories: You will also need regular scissors (obviously!), a tapestry needle to weave in the ends, and some stitch markers. I made some out of a wire coat hanger. I should write another post on all the uses for a wire coat hanger! Possibly the most useful thing to have kicking around!

Other stuff: A notebook is always a good idea, even just to jot down notes about how many stitches you need to do or where you left off. I got the stitch counter at Value Village as well but I honestly haven't used it yet.

Where to learn:

I primarily used Sheep and Stitch to learn the basics. It is a clean, easy to navigate site that has plenty of videos to follow as well as instructional videos with 2 free patterns that you can follow along in. My current project is making wrist warmers and that will hopefully turn into actual mittens but baby steps here! I've used a mix of free patterns on the internet and youtube to find videos on any parts I don't understand. It's a good thing I have all that $3 yarn because I've made about 5 awful and unusable attempts at wrist warmers! Sixth times a charm?

What to Knit:

Pinterest: Obviously a very valuable resource for inspiration but also very helpful to find free patterns without having to dig around websites too much. Check out my Knit Board to see what I plan on making.

Ravelry: This is a very intimidating website! I find it tough to navigate and not very user friendly but it does seem to be a wealth of information and patterns. You will need to sign up and I think it may be a website I just need to get more used to.

Fringe Association: Talk about beautiful knitting products! I want everything from this store and the blog has really great free patterns.

Toft Luxury British Knit: This is another beautiful store that also sells kits with the yarn and patterns included. They have free patterns you can "purchase" as well that are emailed to you.

Sheep and Stitch: As I mentioned Sheep and Stitch patterns are perfect for beginners because they have an instructional video that goes along with it.

What are you waiting for?? Get knitting!