Monday, March 31, 2008


The City of Victoria is wrapped around an 'Inner Harbour,' which leads to an 'Upper Harbour' (where we live), and then beyond us is called the Gorge Waterway. It is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, but feels and looks more like a river as it cuts northwest through primarily a residential district.

It's beautiful, and historically has been a social gathering place for rowers and paddlers; these days the waterway is used a lot by competitive teams for practice -- dragon boats, outriggers, kayakers and voyageur canoes go up and down the waterway at all hours of the day and night, and there's always something to see.

The Gorge Waterway Action Society is a registered charity dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the Gorge Waterway. Check out some of their ongoing projects

Here's some more info about the
attractions along the Gorge ....

I couldn't have picked a prettier place to live! From now until September we will, a couple of times a week, pack a picnic lunch or supper, and 'head up the Gorge' for a few hours, or the whole day -- anchoring in front of Point Ellice House to eat, sliding over the sides of the dinghy for a swim, looking for swans to feed, etc., and doing our part to keep it clean and pristine.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


In the spring, Victoria is, in a word, PINK.
(click directly on any picture to see the bigger version...)

These are, depending on who you ask, either Japanese plum or Japanese cherry trees -- and they are pink by the bazilions all over the city right now. Here's the entrance to Saxe Point Park, where the Victoria FibreFest will be held in June...

And tonight, even the sky is pink...

I, on the other hand, am a little blue -- I made it all the way to Row 10 of the Moonshadow Stole body, but now I have to rip out a row or two, because I was doing so well it never occurred to me to actually READ THE DIRECTIONS.

Friday, March 28, 2008

SIVIA'S BACK (SUBTITLE: Fool that I am...)

It was a busy day off Victoria's waterfront yesterday!

First of all, the military was really busy -- I counted 4 or 5 big warships out on some exercises along the US border (that invisible line in the middle of the Juan de Fuca Strait) along with two smaller (frigates? I want to say frigate!) and a helicopter.

At one point I looked up from my knitting to see four freighters (including the yacht-toting one I'd heard was coming in, and was hoping to get a picture of),the Pacific Swift and the pilot boat.

I parked the van and walked out on the breakwater to get a better picture -- and the yacht-toting freighter sailed right on by me to anchor over off the Esquimalt Lagoon (to save overnight mooring fees, maybe, if they can't unload until today?)

By the time I walked back to the van, all was quiet again, and it was dusk...

Just as well, because I had some serious knitting to do.

There's an old joke that goes like this: "I'm planning to live forever... so far, so good." I've put Sivia's 'Moonshadow' stole back on the needles (you knew I couldn't stay away long, didn't you?) and I'm on row 14 of the border.

So far, so good.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


... when I grow up.

This woman named Anne just happened to wander in to the building where our Guild was meeting yesterday, and our host assumed she was joining us because she had on the most amazing knitted things. Turns out she lived there, and no, she'd never heard of the Victoria Knitters Guild, but yes, she'd be happy to bring some of her work to show us.

Here's one of the three sweaters she turned up with ten minutes later...

Here's a close-up...

Now, do yourself a favor and click on the above picture to bring up its bigger counterpart, so you can see the detail. I'll wait right here...

Isn't that just, by any definition, beautiful?

My first thought, when I saw these sweaters, was, "Anyone could make these ...!" Followed closely by, "... but no one does!" And why not? Because they'd be a LOT of work ... you'd have to have a good eye for color, which this woman clearly does. But more importantly, I'd think you'd have to gauge swatch in each different yarn, in the stitch pattern, to make sure it would work -- and I know how *I* feel about gauge-swatching!

And this morning, I'm re-thinking my 'anyone could make these' comment ... because not every one, not even every knitter, would have the creative vision in the first place. Sometimes I think I do, but when I look at work like this, I'm not so sure...

But just LOOK at the reward you'd get if you were willing, like Anne, to do the work. I'm SO inspired, and I sure hope she joins our Guild!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Well, I ate too much (including the chocolate), the company's all gone home now (my sister Julie from Qualicum Beach and daughter Hailey from Whistler -- grandson Joshua is still here!), and I'm exhausted!

First of all, Anne's having a contest that's worth checking out!

Here's the new shawl I'm no longer screwing up ... the yarn is Elann's laceweight Alpaca/Merino blend, doubled, in a gorgeous medium blue ...

... and I can't decide if I'll keep it or give it to my new International Scarf Exchange pal -- good thing I don't have to decide right now.

Down at the water, watched this tug come in to the harbour...

And then I watched this dude feeding the pigeons (see the one feeding right out of his hand?)

And then I came home just in time to see Vancouver billionaire Jimmy Patterson's "Nova Spirit" coming up out of the water at Point Hope Shipyard ...

My daughter was so excited to see this yacht because it was in the news last fall - Oprah was a guest aboard the Nova Spirit here around the Island, for a few weeks.

The Nova Spirit is a 150' Trinity Yacht, aluminum-hulled, built for Jim-boy in 1999. You can read more about it here if you're interested.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008


... and I'm already screwing up a whole new shawl pattern.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Even though I'm a knitter, the 'Swift' I'm referring to today is not a yarn swift!

Yesterday morning I got down to Clover Point (for my nearly-daily-knitting/meditation-time) just in time to see this...

This is one of Victoria's very own tall ships... the Pacific Swift, and it was just returning from four days in the Gulf Islands with childhood cancer
patients from BC Children’s Hospital, apparently.

The Swift is old and tired now and doesn't go very far, but its sister ship, the Pacific Grace, takes youth on adventures all around the world -- it's currently in Japan on a 'goodwill' mission of some sort, and you can read all about that here.

SALTS (Sail and Life Training Society) is an amazing organization that has over 1000 kids on a waiting list for its life-changing journeys, and it has recently released a 'Fresh Vision' to transform itself into a major presence here on our waterfront. If you want to read more about their plans for a heritage ship-building interpretive centre (and a new tall ship to be built!) go to and click on "A Fresh Vision', bottom left.

In knitterly news, I've given up on Sivia's Moonshadow Stole for now, and taken it right off the needles. :-( After many, many trips to the frog pond and never getting past row 5 in the main body, I've decided to give it a rest. I'll try it again another time, but for now I'm just too frustrated with it. After the Secret of the Stole project and this Moonshadow attempt, this morning I cast on 3 stitches and will make a nice, SIMPLE 'dishcloth pattern' baby blanket!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

HOT OFF THE PRESS (... and the needles....)

This morning, at our weekly Victoria Knitters Guild meeting, I finished and cast off my Secret of the Stole. I LOVE it, and I'm so glad I did it, even though it's been quite a challenge, and a love/hate relationship right from the start.

My friend Esther took these pics for me ...

Here's a close-up of the design ...

And, finally 2 or 3 of the members helped me hold it up -- it's over 8' long!

The yarn is 100% laceweight cotton (with some slubby texture to it) in a pale baby blue color, and I knit it on 4mm needles.

Monday, March 17, 2008


The Johnson Street Bridge was designed in 1920; it is a ‘Bascule’ bridge -- one end rises while a counter weight lowers on the opposite end to let marine traffic into the ‘Upper Harbour’ (where we live) here in Victoria. The Johnson Street Bridge has two separate Bascules, a railway section and a highway section. Joseph Strauss, of Strauss Bascule Company Limited, who held the patents on the design, later designed the Golden Gate.

The bridge’s superstructure contains 100 tons of steel, and the sub-structure contains 10,000 cubic yards of concrete. The counter-weight block weighs 780 tons, which balances the 350-ton opening span; two 75-horse electric motors power its ups and downs.
The bridge construction was completed (cost: just short of a million bucks) and opened in January, 1924. The original wood timber deck was replaced by steel grid decking in 1966.

In 1996 the Johnson Street Bridge starred in its first major motion picture, "Excess Baggage" starring Alicia Silverstone. During filming, the bridge was closed 12 hours a day for a week, and the pedestrians, cyclists and 30,000-odd daily vehicles had to use other routes through town.

The bridge has been in the new again the last couple of weeks ...
Blue glow proposed
Demolition Permit for buildings

But for me, it's just part of the 'neighborhood.' I can see it going up and down throughout the day -- a siren similar to a fire truck sounds first, which is great because I have time to stop whatever I'm doing and go up on the bridge (of our boat, that is) to see if anything interesting is coming in or going out!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I got an email from a film-maker in Qualicum Beach the other day -- he was researching the herring run, and found an old article I'd written about it several years ago. He sent me this wonderful video he created this year!

One of the surest signs of spring in Victoria is the 'paragliders' down on Dallas Road ... these dudes are crazy!

They get airborne by basically running and jumping off the edge of that cliff, and then the thermal currents carry them back and forth along the cliff (curving off to the left in the photo) for someimes hours. They can control their height (to an extent), their speed and their landing -- but they mostly just 'hang out' up there on the currents!

We had a few winter winds this week -- here's what it looked like right in the harbour...

But the other morning I was at Clover Point and it was flat calm ... I arrived just in time to see new BC Ferry #2 go by (en route from Germany, where it was built...)

...followed closely by our Canadian Coast Guard...

All of which is to distract you from the fact that I have no knitterly news. I'm on Clue #8 of the 'Secret of the Stole' KAL -- only one more week to go! -- and still struggling with the edging on Sivia Harding's Moonshadow Stole - I've made it as far as Row 17, but keep ending up with a wrong stitch count and having to rip it back. VERY frustrating ... but I'm not giving up!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Two people I know (non-knitters, both) have sent me this link today, and it's got me thinking... (scary, I know...) ... know any nice, reasonably public trees in Victoria we can decorate like this to publicize the FibreFest? It can't be on City property because I'm pretty sure they'd be 'scrooges' and take it all down, but... any idea, locals? It could be lots of fun!

Sunday, March 9, 2008


The 'Strait of Georgia' is the body of water which has, on three of its sides (in a counter-clockwise direction), Vancouver Island, Puget Sound, and the 'mainland' of the province of British Columbia. The northern end of it, beyond Canada's Gulf Islands, becomes the 'Inside Passage' to Alaska.

Here's a pretty good map/diagram of the area. (The dotted line, by the way, is the border between the USA and Canada, and the red outline is the watershed systems that feed into the sea).

Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island overlooks the southern end of it...

Many, many folks already refer to this body of water as the Salish Sea -- and there's an article in my local paper today explaining why, and suggesting that there may be an official move to change the name. I'd sure support that whole-heartedly! Since it was the Salish Sea for thousands of years, and only the Strait of Georgia for about 150, it makes sense to me...

Saturday, March 8, 2008


FINISHED! the Secret of the Stole "Hint" #7. Two more weeks to go on this baby, and I'm lovin' it, but I'll be glad when it's done, too!

I took it out to play this morning for a photoshoot... here's a close-up of the pattern:

And here it is swingin' in the spring-time breeze here in Beacon Hill Park (just up from Clover Point where I usually hang out), all seven feet of it! It's a beautiful warm sunny day here in Victoria ...

Now ... look back at that photo ... see the crest of the hill in the upper left-hand corner?

I'm going out to play for the rest of the day, somewhere over that hill.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Took myself down to Clover Point very early yesterday morning, and was delighted to discover that the sun was *just* coming up. It was lovely...

In knitterly news, I'm still in shawl mode.... in the Secret of the Stole KAL I'm on Clue #7 and slogging away. It's been a challenge, and fun to watch it 'unfold' as I knit, but ... remind me not to sign up again anytime soon, okay? 10 weeks of only knitting one thing, pretty much, is making me crazy! I do have a 'mindless' shawl on some other needles, but I haven't done much on it:

The picture doesn't really do the colors justice... it's all in really nice shades of primarily a 'wine' color.

And I still have Sivia Harding's Moon Shadow Stole in the queue -- well, the truth is, I've cast on and frogged it twice already, so now it's going to wait for awhile.
Oh, and I've cast on a new pale blue chunky weight sweater for Gibson... but again, haven't got very far. . .

Maybe this weekend things will shift, and I'll actually *accomplish* something!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


That's what skipping school was called when I was young, and the expression came to mean 'goofing off' from whatever responsibilities one 'should' have been taking care of.

Confession: yesterday I played hookey. Warning: long post ahead, and you can click on any of the images to see them bigger and better!

It all started when my sister sent me a photo she'd taken day before yesterday...

If you've been reading my blog at all, you'd know that this is a photo of the herring season roe fishery that takes place every year at this time, about a 2-3 hour drive north of here, up-Island.

For the *facts* about the fishery, you can read this and here, which includes a bit about the controversy around the sheer size of the take.

Here's a photo of a herring school that passed right under our boat last year when we were anchored in Albert Head...

Facts aside, the *experience* of being in the midst of the herring roe fishery is, for me, one of the highlights of my life here on Vancouver Island. The feeling in the air during herring season is nothing short of 'magical' ... it's the beginning of spring! The herring schools bring with them seagulls, eagles, seals and sea lions ... sometimes even orca .... all of which can gorge themselves on the feed. The water near the beaches turns a tropical turquoise from the spawn, and the whole area is ALIVE with activity.

So I played hookey and drove straight north to Buckley Bay. The short story is that I never did catch up to the fleet -- I think they might have been out of sight in Lambert Channel between Denman and Hornby Islands -- but I sure had a great day!

Re-live it with me...

Here is a lookout over Baynes Sound, which runs between Vancouver Island and Denman Island -- a common place for the fleet to gather, but they weren't here. That's the Denman Island ferry just coming in in the background.

So then I drove south to a little community in the Sound called Fanny Bay, where there was lots of activity, but no herring fleet.
There's lots of oyster farms in this area, and so there is constant loading/unloading of oysters here...

Those are sea lions on the log boom, by the way ... hundreds of them, barking, and... well... smelling.

Southeast winds blow up Baynes Sound relentlessly in the winter months, and this is sometimes the result...

And just before I left Fanny Bay, I had a look at this poor old hulk...

... which, for years, was a well-known landmark restaurant called the 'Brico.' The owners got old and tired about 8 years ago and couldn't sell the place because it needed a lot of work -- so they just closed the doors one day and never came back.

Anyway, I carried on south in my quest to find the herring fleet. I found some of it, as I knew I would, in Deep Bay. Deep Bay is the reason I know about the herring fishery -- it's really the hub of the whole operation, and we lived there for nearly 4 years in the late '90s.

The first sign of spring in Deep Bay is when two tugboats bring this monster in...

It's the Canadian Fish Company's (CanFisCo) floating ice plant and fishery headquarters, on a barge, and it comes here all the way from the Fraser River every year at this time.

The boats in the bay are either ... waiting for herring season to open, finished their quota and resting before they leave the area, or waiting for crew or boat parts, or... ? You'll see everything from state-of-the-art aluminum computerized vessels like this one (see the big drum on the back that holds the net?)...

... to ancient classics like this one, that come back year after year:

But even more interesting, to me, is the beach. I took these photos on the south end of Baynes Sound looking out toward the Chrome Island lighthouse (where we used to do charter tours... but that's another story):

It just doesn't get much more beautiful that that!
I finally tore myself away and drove south to Qualicum Beach, where I had lunch and watched one lonely herring boat in the bay. If you click on this photo to see the bigger image, the 'blue line' of the spawn is clearly visible.

I managed to knit a few rows of the Secret of the Stole here, too!

I drove slowly south from Qualicum through Parksville and Nanoose in the (fading) hope of seeing the fleet, but no luck. Met my sister Julie for supper in the Nanaimo Harbour, and then drove back home to Victoria, after dark.

I better get some work done today to make up for my WONDERFUL 'herring run' yesterday!