Wednesday, January 31, 2007

You Can't Always Get What You Want - Pottery The End For Now

Like the Rolling Stone song, I couldn't always get what I wanted. But hey, shit happens and we make the best of what we get, mostly.

Life at the cabin was humming away smoothly and business was great. I sometimes had trouble keeping up making some of the best selling items and I was a happy hippy. I also did a summer outdoor sale every summer and got involved in the Studio Tour.

In May 2000 my Dad passed away and my Mom required more attention. I found commuting between Haliburton and T-Dot on a weekly basis difficult and even though my sweetie brought Mom up on some weekends I struggled. The other thing that knocked me for a loop was my own body. I started having horrible hip pain and back pains plus signs of carpel tunnel on my right hand.

Finally in 2002 I was placed on a waiting list for a new hip. In 2003 I had carpel tunnel surgery on my right hand, and my back, well there wasn't much to do about that. An MRI showed that all my discs, save one, had deteriorated badly and surgery just wasn't an option. I still potted but not as much and I still worked on that tablecloth.

In the fall of 2003 it became apparent that my Mom could no longer live on her own and a promise I had made years before came into play. My husband and I decided to build an addition onto our home as a bedroom for her. He really is a sweetie, how many men would do that for their mother-in-law?

The only problem was that for the summer of 2004 I could not go to the studio at all. He needed me here in town to help (not physically) with the addition. I had to agree of course, it was a huge undertaking. I was responsible for building permits, dealing with inspectors, making lunches and coffee for the workers and just generally taking care of all phone calls. The backhoe hit the ground May 15 and the addition was finished in September of 2004. Mom loves it and is very happy here.

On October 15Th, of the same year I went under the knife, or chain saw actually and received a new hip. I haven't been near the studio since. That's not to say I haven't been up there, I opened the door one weekend with the intention of cleaning it up and maybe starting again and got so depressed I just closed the door and walked away.

I don't know, this last paragraph is turning into the hardest one to write. I am torn between spending the summer up north and my obligation to Mom. I know that I will stay in town for as long as she lives, and I hope it will be a long time, but the longing to be elsewhere and the guilt I feel for having this longing sometimes makes me feel even worse.

I know that someday, my time will come and the tablecloth, well it didn't become a full tablecloth but with 280 circles, it made a lovely runner and we use it a lot...The End


Just a Quickie Today!

I have a problem with titles, but what the heck... I'm kind of busy with doctor's appointments and business stuff for my sweetie but did want to get these pictures up.

My Mom, who has been feeling useless of late was so thrilled to be able to do this for me yesterday. I couldn't have done it without her.

So, as a reward, I turned this....

Into that.. and it suits her... she was thrilled.

Thanks Mom.. I really, really need a new camera, are you paying attention offspring?


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Story Continues - Pottery Part 5

I have to backtrack a bit here, I got my years mixed up. The start of the adventure was actually 1995 not 1996 as in an earlier post.

I wish I was a better story teller because really, the adventures my friend and I had in 1996 were amazing. That year I booked us into 10 sales starting with Mother's day all the way to Christmas. Everywhere we travelled, the crocheting came along with me. It got to the stage where I had so many little circles that I dreaded sewing them together, but sew them I must. Since I had decided that each row needed 18 circles for the length I wanted I started sewing them together in groups of 6 hoping to make my life easier in the end.

We had good sales and we had some horrible sales and through it all, I kept on crocheting and of course potting. By late summer of 96 my sweetie suggested I might just be having too much fun travelling around like a hippy and if I wanted to continue this "hobby" we might just try something different. I had circles finished, but still not enough for my tablecloth.

I had been slowly pushing for a real studio to be built on the same property where we have a small cabin and finally in the fall of 96 I got my wish. My sweetie agreed partially because he wanted to keep me happy and partially because he needed to spend six months in Greece in 1997. He was leaving May 97 and knowing I would have a place to happily spend the summer would make the separation easier to handle. Therefore the building started in April of 97 and was finished just one week before my sweeties departure for Greece.
The building begins in April and there an amazing amount of snow to deal with. We were also staying in our cabin that had no running water and only an outhouse.
Building the Studio
We had two friends and my husbands carpentry helper, who wanted a learning experience to help us.
The Floor

I'm standing on the floor trying to decide the room layouts. I needed three rooms, one as a showroom, one to pot in and one for the kiln.

Up She Goes

Up she goes!

Almost Finished

Almost Done!


Six Weeks Later

Six weeks later the works begins and my sweetie has left for Greece. He was gone for six months. I spent almost the entire six months up there making occasional trips to T-Dot to replenish my clay and other materials. Doesn't take much to make me happy, my wheel, clay, a case of wine, some bear spray and I can say it was the most wonderful summer of my entire life, other than missing my sweetie of course.

Maple Cottage Pottery was born.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Another Finished Project

This was hanging around for a while and I finally got it finished. I love the color and the texture knitted is wonderful, I may have to make another one. Problem is, this yarn is so expensive I'll have to wait a bit.

It's spun in Peru and is called Luxury Baby Silk, 80 percent baby alpaca and 20 percent silk.

I have 100 grams left and I'm not sure what to do with it. Maybe a little purse if it can be felted. I'm just not sure that this yarn lends itself to felting so I will have to try it out.

I specially liked the neckline of this pattern and the three quarter sleeves. It suits me quite well.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I'm Writing, I'm Writing - Honest

I am really working on the next installment of the pottery story but did get a little sidetracked today. I have a rough draft but need to tweak it and scan and upload some photographs to go with the story.

Meanwhile, last night we went to play bridge with our regular group of four couples. We not only get together to play, we also turn it into a dinner party. We have great fun and I sometimes think bridge is secondary to the dinner.

One of my friends made me two lovely sweater pins to go with the navy cardi that I'm working on. Since I'm making it without buttons it will be nice to pin the front if I really want it to stay closed. My friend makes lovely jewellery with semi precious stones and I really appreciated receiving these as a gift. Now what can I make her in return...hmmm..I have told my friend that she can sell her work, it's that good.

Oh yes, as a teaser, a picture of the crochet tablecloth that is part of my pottery story.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Finally - Some Finished Socks

There is finally some knitting done. I can't believe how long it took me to finish these socks but my only excuse is that I was reminiscing about pottery my first love.

As well, all those pictures had to be individually scanned into the computer which is incredibly time consuming. In those days I didn't have a digital camera so took too much of my time. Was it worth it, maybe, at least now I can burn them on a CD and even the originals get lost or something, I'll have a CD.

I am now awaiting delivery of the green wool I ordered from Knit Pixie so I can start working on some socks for the green sock knit along. Hopefully they will be here this week. I have some pink alpaca that I bought on e-bay for a baby sweater. I just need to find an appropriate patter before I can start. Not much of a choice up here in T-Dot, most of the good yarn shops have moved to the suburbs....oh well, not much I can do about that is there. Happy knitting, happy weekend.


Friday, January 26, 2007

The Eternal Optimist - Pots Part 4

After the disastrous first show knowing there where two more booked before Christmas that year I knew I needed some help. I enlisted a woman whom I had met at my first course and who lived in the neighbourhood to take part in the next two sales.

Joan liked working by hand doing slab type ceramics whereas I was totally hooked on the wheel. That would of course change later on where I became proficient in both. Between the two of us we managed to put together a nice selection of pottery.

We started a company and called ourselves On A Whim Artisans, got a Visa machine and away we went. We enlisted my sweetie to build us shelving which would be portable, easy to assemble and look decent. Of course none of this stuff fit into my nice real estate car which was an Audi at that time. Lucky for me one of my pals had a van and we switched vehicles for the weekends we needed to go out of town.

The other major lesson I learned for the first sale is this; there is a difference between craft sales and it's major. There are juried sales and then there are sales where just about anything goes and from then on we applied only to juried sales.
Setting up the Booth

The result of all this work was an invite to the second largest craft show in downtown Toronto, the Signatures Show and Sale, second only to The One of a Kind Craft Show. That's me, the hippy setting up the booth.

Signatures Craft Sale 98

The finished booth, and below some of the pots and of course the chrocheting!
Green Speckle Ware

My Stars

Did I finish that tablecloth? Stay tuned...


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside

It's a cold day here in T-Dot, -13 C (4F) but with "windchill" it actually feels like -22C (-2F) and it's not fair. My rose was so close to blooming again and the daffodils were poking out a couple of weeks ago and then bam, they get nailed by the cold.

It's actually meant to get colder as the weekend approaches and we may see a blizzard any time soon.

I don't feel much like writing about Pottery today so I'm just going to curl up with my knitting tonight. I have a pair of socks almost finished. I also received notice today that the "green yarn" for the green sock KAL from Knit Pixie is finally in stock and on it's way to me. By the time it gets here I will have the red socks finished.

My sweetie has also requested a new pair of socks, he even said please....Wow!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Love For Pots - Part 3

My first show was in a small town called Mt. Albert, about half hour north of T-Dot and required me to be there at 6 AM to set up a display. I had minimal experience at doing this but gave it my best shot.

This show went from 10 AM to 4 PM and I had visions of being sold out by noon that's how positive I was about my stuff. I took along some crocheting just in case and it was a good thing. I needed the distraction from boredom.

The crochet project I started that weekend was a tablecloth done in white number 10 cotton, that's pretty thin stuff. The pattern was an easy one, basically 12 rows on the round which turned into a star shape. The finished tablecloth needed something like 360 rounds which were then sewn together. This crocheting went with me to every sale from that day on.

Back to the sale, the turnout was depressing. The other vendors I spoke to were also demoralized and we tried to cheer each other up. Remember, this was my first experience at this stuff and I had such high hopes. I had worked myself into a frenzy and had a reasonably nice collection of mugs, bowls, and platters.

Customers would come by, touch, admire and then ask if I had that in a difference color. I never seemed to have the right color in what they wanted and the sale was a total wipe out. I paid 25 bucks for the space, was there the entire day and grossed about 75 bucks total. But it was a learning experience and the next sale was only three weeks away. Back to the drawing board....stay tuned...


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Love For Pots - Part 2

Of course my ego wouldn't allow me to think that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't going to be able to do this. After all, I'm a type A personality for whom the word failure doesn't exist? Well I was about to get some lessons in failure.

The best way to get your feet wet is to book craft sales, which I did with abandon. For the fall of that year (1996), I booked sales every third weekend, for a total of four in all, in small towns within 100 km of T-Dot, then I got busy.

It seemed a lot easier in a class room with a teacher (the best in Haliburton) coaching me, than it was in real life. My first kiln load of bisque ware pots was a disaster. Half the stuff was cracked and the other half mysteriously deformed. Okay, back to the drawing board. Remember, I'm working under deadline here with these sales coming up fast and furiously and real estate still happening. Fortunately for me 1996 wasn't the busiest year in real estate so I did have time to do some research.

After reading a lot of books on clay composition and firing temperatures and literally babysitting the kiln through 11 hours of firing to make certain the temperature didn't rise more than 100 degrees F an hour, I had my first load of acceptable bisque ware. Oh joy...

Now came the hardest part, for me anyway, the glaze compositions. Now there are two choices, one is to buy pre mixed glazes and the other is to mix your own. I chose to mix my own from raw material. I did have a couple of base recipes from the course but wanted to fire at a different temperature and wanted to add my own colorings. I don't have a chemical background and I'm pretty pathetic in math so it was a challenge. Math in real estate was a breeze in comparison to figuring out the minutest quantities of glaze material needed to keep a finished pot from crazing, or the glaze running off the pot during firing.

After a couple of near disasters, my first show.... to be continued...


Gloomy Tuesday Treat

I saw these delicious looking buns on this blog and was waiting for the right opportunity to try them. Well, today was that day. It is grey and damp with occasional snow flurries and I've run out of bread.

The house smells divine and I've already tasted one with raspberry jam and afternoon coffee.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Love For Pots - Part 1

Many years ago when I was still selling real estate as a full time profession, I needed a creative outlet. I have always been a crafty type of chick and knitting, crochet and sewing were always part of my life.

I also went through my stained glass phase where there wasn't a window in my house that didn't have some sort of stained glass in it. I made light fixtures and lamps and glass for front doors. Then tennis elbow struck and I gave it up as a full time hobby. I still make the occasional piece of glass or panel if a friend requests it or the mood strikes.

But clay, now that's a whole different obsession. It started with a course at the local school, you know, the kind where bored housewives go to get out for the evening while hubby babysits. But for me it was the start of a love affair with clay. I promptly bought a wheel and a kiln.

We are fortunate to have a small cabin in cottage country very close to the town of Haliburton, Ontario. Now Haliburton happens to have the best summer school called appropriately the Haliburton School of Fine Arts and they offer courses in everything from stained glass, pottery, knitting to making fine french undies.

Of course I signed up not only for the beginner course but the advanced course in one month and when I was done I thought I was a Potter.

Stay tuned for part 2...


Okay, I'll bite...the coffee cup challenge. These are my favourite mugs and I use them often.

Since these are the last two I own that I made in my studio, I try to take care of them. There was a time when I produced five or six dozen mugs a day in my studio. Those days will come again.

I prefer my beans freshly ground although not with that particular grinder. That one belonged to my grandmother in German and these days I use an electric one. Nice to know that if the power goes out I can still grind beans though. Of course I'd have to boil the water on the BBQ, but what the heck.

These days I only buy fair trade coffee and I am actually looking into getting my own roaster. I've been drinking coffee most of my life and in the days of my real estate career I lived on coffee and cigarettes.

The real estate days are over but I still drink coffee, just not as much...and the cigarettes, well, I'm not perfect...

A Very Helpful Site

Found this on another bloggers site and thought to share. Follow this link for all kinds of help and tips.

Not Much Progress

I hate writing when I have nothing new to show. This has been a slow week for knitting, mostly because I spent two days down with a migraine. They are pretty debilitating and I literally can't lift my head off the pillow.

I have a drawer full of drugs but when nothing stays down they can't really work can they. Finally by the second day I broke down and took a new drug that costs a blinking fortune but works. I don't know why I do that to myself, why don't I just take it right away? Mostly because I keep thinking the headache will go away any moment if I just lie still.

The rest of the week was spent playing with Blogger and trying out all the new features on the test blog. I haven't used the customized layout yet on this one until I am sure I know what I'm doing.

Oh I miss my middle grandson who booted it back to cowtown (Calgary) just before Christmas. He was a genius with stuff like this.

Socks later in the week...Happy Knitting

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture??

Apart from the fact that they are both different, there is something terribly wrong with one of these socks.

I won't keep you in suspense, the beautiful blue fair isle sock just wont go over my ankle, therefore I messed up somewhere. They look the same so what's the problem? The blue socks, which are 100 percent wool don't stretch one iota, whereas the red ones, which is a sock yarn, stretches.

So, I am going to frog them and maybe reknit using more stitches. I haven't decided, right now I'm really, really pissed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bored, Bored, Bored!!!

I am bored with the usual projects so I decided to try something I haven't done before. Fair Isle is something I thought would be extremely difficult but is turning out to be quite easy.

I found a little chart in a British magazine with a 10 stitch repeat pattern and decided to try it out on a pair of socks.

I had 100 grams of the pale blue and 50 grams of the beige left over from a cardigan I made last year so that's what I'm using.

My only problem thus far is that 70 stitches is too large for a sock and 60 not large enough. I think when I get to the heel flap I am going to add 4 stitches. At least the brain has to work a little.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Too Much Stuff- Not The Right Stuff

The great book and needles arrived yesterday, another Christmas present from my"almost daughter in law" in California. Love the needles, they light up up life, thanks Dawn.

When my needles sizes and yarn in stash don't match up, I know I'm in trouble. With all the needles I have, I actually had to go buy a pair of #6's today. Go figure, it's the only size that wasn't there.

I also got all these fablous knitting books for Christmas, I think Santa liked me this year. Or he wants me to decrease the stash.

I must admit that I was bad and ordered more yarn yesterday, but it was for socks and that doesn't count, right???

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life Saver For Us Knitters


A common problem for knitters who also do domestic stuff, is that they tend to have cuts and nicks on fingers, which makes knitting difficult.

This is my solution and it really works. I just paint a little on my cut finger and in my case a split thumb every winter, and it lasts for a couple of days. Just long enough for it to heal.

Great stuff, every one should have a bottle in their knitting box.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Green Sock Knitalong

Green Sock Knitalong
Originally uploaded by LollyKnit.
I'm joining the fun and knitting green socks. It's actually a color I don't own yet but what the heck, I can always use another pair.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Switched To Beta

I have successfully switched the blog to Beta, so far the only problem I have run into is, I can't upload picture through Flickr. When I try to paste my code in, it won't accept it. So until I figure it out all pictures have to come through Blogger. It's not as much fun, I can't play around with the sizes.

My other problem with Blogger is that when you change the template under the Customize tab, that's the one where you have those drag and drop features, I can't make head or tail out of them and had to give up. Maybe someone else is having the same problem and can advise me.

Anyway, this the the sock with the heel flap finished, and the heel turned. I hope to have them finished soon.

Also the cardi I started had to be frogged, it turned out to be too small. So I recast it with a larger size.

Christmas Gifts - Finally Finished!!!

These are my dishcloths that I was making to give as gifts. Unfortunately, I didn't get them finished on time so none of my neighbours got any included in their gift packs this year.

I started this little gift thing here when we moved to this house seven years ago. It started with just two immediate neighbours and one across the street. I did up a little gift bag with some home made cookies, some jam, maybe a candle and one year a little pottery bowl. That was the year my pottery studio was in full swing.

This has now expanded to seven homes and they have all gotten in on the act with reciprocal little gifts. It's fun and a nice thing to do. This year was to be dishcloth year but I ran out of time for various reasons.

Now I hope to get them done for Valentines Day and give out a few chocolate kisses with them.

Happy Knitting!!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

A New Project.

I have cast on this beautiful cardi I saw my my latest Vogue Magazine and I just loved the way the cabled scarf is knit separately and sew on.

I don't have a goal in mind when it will be finished, I'll just go with the low on this one.

I am using a beautiful navy blue merino that I bought from KnitPiks last month as part of my Christmas present from Sweetie.

Happy Knitting!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Time to Split

I'm separating the two blogs.

The View From Here
is still my blog for opinions, news and family stuff. There are too many different people checking in for different reasons.

These are the new socks I'm working on. I hope to have them finished by the end of the weekend.

Happy Knitting.