Recharging

a February morning
After the snow
Projects – a pair of my botany mittens using local maritime wool and a Pangur Ban Icelandic sweater

Took some time to be in the woods and fields during the month of February. I feel so fortunate that my family owns land in north-eastern Nova Scotia. When I begin to feel a little drained, I take a trip 2.5 hours to the north and spend as much time as possible regardless of weather, hiking the hills and wandering in the woods. Sitting by the river with the dogs, talking to my mom about endless things. Spotting eagles, listening to coyotes howl and yip. Surprising ducks as they flap as fast as they can quacking above my head only to circle back and rest in nearby icy water.

February is such a promising month. The daylight noticeably lengthens. The temperatures fluctuate reminding you that life can be both bright and warm. Hats can come off, fingerless mitts adorned. Robins, yes robins have been building their nests! Perhaps spring is earlier in the Halifax area than on the island πŸ™‚

Something that I generally struggle with is when life is static. I need consistent change to feel motivated and creative. This change doesn’t need to be anything huge but rather a new hiking trail, a cabin to get away to, a new beach to beachcomb. So, maybe every 2 months, I go out to my family’s property to just have a change of pace and a change of scenery as well as to spend time with family. I love being out there – a river that’s constantly changing runs through the forest with streams that diverge and flow into a small lake, ultimately emptying into the Chedabucto Bay. I feel at peace following deer prints in the snow and excited each day at what the changing winter weather will bring!

This visit was very unpredictable. The first day, we had a snowstorm. The snow stuck to the boughs of spruce reminiscent of Narnia under the white witch. I put cross country skis on to struggle with the sticky snow under the skis risking turning an ankle. They looked like moon shoes and I could have moved much faster walking! But still, to just get out after a heavy snowfall is so magical and falling asleep after skiing I always find so blissfully easy.

Soon after, there was rain and ice rain. The landscape changed so dramatically with the encasement of thick crystal ice. When I was little, we had a massive ice storm in eastern Ontario which is one of the most impactful memories of my childhood. Telephone poles crumbled under the weight of the ice and we were without power for 2 weeks. The first morning, was so eerily beautiful but so dangerous. I write about weather so much, it must be terrible boring!

So this past visit, my mom and I made a batch of homemade soap using the calendula oil that my mom made from her garden. Our recipe for soap is lye dissolved in water and vegetable oils with a little bit of salt to harden and some essential oils. We just make this in my mom’s kitchens and have been doing so for years now! It’s so fun using your own soap. The soap takes a couple of months to ‘cure’ so when this batch does, I’ll be adding some to the shop. Soap was one of the first items we added to our small cottage shop back when we first opened! Traditionally, soap was made with animal fat rather than vegetable oils and lye derived from wood ash. I would love to attempt to make an animal based soap as well someday and it would be so cool to do some hands-on archaeology and make it with wood ash πŸ™‚

Homemade soap from a country kitchen
Quilts <3 All handmade
Frosty days

Dirt roads under the rising sun

Back from our walk in the woods

a package mailed out, wishing for spring
After the ice rain
Spruce in the snow

Now back at home, I’m focusing on finishing up some items for the shop and writing the pangur ban pattern (as well as other things). It is essentially finished, I just need to do some hard edits and check the math. A new sweater was cast on whilst in the country to just triple check the written instructions. I write my patterns with my 18 year old self in mind who couldn’t make heads or tails of knitting patterns, I find this tactic to work really well and hope you notice πŸ™‚ Some new mittens will be up in the shop probably this weekend however we have house things to do this weekend (rearranging our entire lower basement storage and figuring out a grow light system for seedlings) so it may be put off. I placed my latest hand-quilted wall hanging in the shop – completely dyed with lichen and mushrooms from my local woods. The lichen was collected along the river you see in the above photo, mo chroΓ­ . I love making these and envision them in personal sacred spaces.

I do hope you find time to be reinvigorated and inspired very soon! What a whirlwind life has been lately… grateful for the woods, the moss, the beach, people and animals. Leaving you with a song that has been repeated frequently these days. Moving forward fearlessly <3

hand-quilt wall art, foraged dyes of lichens and mushrooms and brewed into a dyebath in my kitchen. Quilted with cotton thread with calloused fingers.

12 thoughts on “Recharging

  1. I absolutely LOVE your choice of “audience” for your knitting patterns. That is just the best. I’m a former/retired English/Comp instructor (community college and HS) and this is just so spot on. Wonderful — and it shows! BTW, do you ever have quilts in your shop? I love reading your posts and many times go back to reread.

    1. Thanks!! I have a masters degree in library science and worked in the reference department of the biggest academic library in Canada. That’s where I learned how to deliver super concise instruction with as much information as possible on how to use academic resources etc. for the most literal minded (I am in fact one of those!). I actually find it really fun and rewarding and transfers really well to writing patterns :)! When I’m writing it’s as if I see my 18 year old self trying to read through and understand!

      We have never had a full bedsize quilt but have had quilted bags, wall quilts and my mom has a quilted travel bag she made for the shop πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much!! Sometimes I go back too and read just to see where I was mentally at during a period of my life. I keep a journal as well for this purpose. I’m going to do my best to write more frequently because it really grounds me and I’m just happy that you enjoy reading them πŸ™‚

  2. Looking forward to seeing the soap in the shop. I would love to learn how to make it, but for now I’m enjoying buying it from lots of wonderful makers. I grew up as a farmer’s daughter and so I find endless discussion of the weather very soothing πŸ™‚ Thanks for the blog entry, I always enjoy your photos and feeling the rhythm of the seasons and the ebb and flow of crafting & making, growing & rest.

    1. Thanks Melissa! That’s really kind of you to say, it really is an ebb and flow and I love your analogy to the tide. I often think of life in analogies, especially the movement of water, whether it’s a river, stream or the ocean. It’s so very accurate I find and allows me to recede as it were and not be “on” all the time. Anyway, I ramble.. πŸ˜›
      Makers really appreciate the support so consider yourself doing a wonderful thing! Our soap is super basic and does have a tendency to get mushy if left wet so needs a strainer where it can dry out before uses. But I love it even if it’s because my mom and I make it together. It probably won’t be up until April because it takes that long but I’ll make a post when it is ready! I hope you will like it :)!
      From snowy Halifax <3

  3. Music, knits, quilted work, snow, river, ice, and woodlands and your unique way of transporting me to it…LOVE it all, Julia! β„οΈπŸŒ²πŸ§Ά

    1. Thank you Bonnie!!

      I’m so glad you liked the song! I personally love it so much… it’s the perfect music for me to just tackle a task that needs to be done like dishes or putting laundry away πŸ˜› Brings my mood right up!

      I’m so happy too you liked the mittens! I was thinking about those particular ones in MN and the thought just makes me happy <3

    1. SO good!! Lol, yes I have seen the channel – it was suggested to me by the algorithm a few years ago I feel because of my listening to Hildegard Von Bingen choral music on repeat via youtube. Love people’s creativity and I actually love that song by Enya, thanks for thinking of me!! It was spot on πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply to Beth Cancel reply