I had a wonderful time teaching wool judging to these amazing people his past weekend in Binbrook Ontario. There was a very diverse group of people from producers, artisans, shearers, fair organizers/judges and even people with their PhD's in wool. Needless to say I also learned a lot from this group.
We had over 60 fleeces to peruse and learn about. Many brought their own fleeces so we could all go through them together and learn from both aspects.
I even go to try some sheep ice cream made by All Sorts Acres!
Any part of a sheep's fleece can be made into these pellets which are a wonder for your soil. Did you know that wool has a high nitrogen content? I learned that this weekend.
Such a special thank you to Melinda Ramsay of Lickety Spit Fibre Farm for her hard work getting this course prepared and providing such hospitality and warmth. I really enjoyed myself. 2 days of hard work for all but there were many smiling faces when the certificates were handed out. Thank you to all who took part in this course.
I was so happy to be able to judge the wool competition at the @bluehillsfibrefestival this past weekend! So many great fleeces. Honestly people, Manitoba sheep producers have so wonderful wool!!
Navajo Churro - @whitespruceheritagefarm Shirley Harvey
Shetland - @prairiesedgewoolfarm Barb Mulock
1st: Rambouillet - Graham Rannie
2nd: Rambouillet - Graham Rannie
3rd: Rambouillet X - Graham Rannie
1st: Rosendale/ Tencel / Romney - Gerry Oliver
2nd: Border Cheviot - Janice Johnstone
3rd: Border Cheviot - Janice Johnstone
1st: Wensleydale - Gerry Oliver
2nd: Wensleydale X - Gerry Oliver
3rd: Wensleydale / North Country Cheviot - Gerry Oliver
1st: Navajo Churro - Shirley Harvey
2nd: Shetland - Barb Mulock
3rd: Navajo Churro - Shirley Harvey
Congrats to all winners and THANK YOU to all who entered. Without you, I wouldn't be able to do what I love!
I had spun 25 skeins for this market and what I have leftover I will be putting into my Etsy shop over the week.
I also had a lot of patterns available as well as spinner starter kits.
I also had a few Unraveled Oracle decks with me that originally debuted at the Manitoba Fibre Festival in 2019 and sold all but 1.
The below felted farm was made by Arlette Seib! Isn't it amazing?
And this gorgeous vest made out of natural fibres on display at the Pembina Fibreshed booth where they were demonstrating how to work with flax.
I didn't get a picture of all the animals at the festival except this sweet baby cria with his mom. You can see a Wensleydale sheep in the background. There was also a Texel, Shetland, CVM, Cotswold and Romney.
Before heading home the next day we of course stopped at Baked Expectations and I got a piece of this German Chocolate Cheesecake. It really is a hard decision, as I also wanted the Red Velvet, Pumpkin Cheesecake and there is a Peanut Butter Marshmallow Cheesecake (!).
I slept most of the way home but I had a smile on my face that hasn't been there for a long time.
It's been a while hasn't it? Without going into why I have stepped back for a bit I'm just going to burst right in with what really brought me back. The 10th year of the Manitoba Fibre Festival!
This past weekend was a whirlwind of excitement, inspiration and community. I missed this so much in the past couple of years. I taught 2 workshops; Learn how to Spin on a Drop Spindle (which sold out) and Fleece to Finish. I was also so lucky to be able to judge the wool show once again which is my true love.
These wonderful fleeces were the winners in their categories at the Manitoba Fibre Festival.
Starting on top left and moving clockwise: 1st Fine White Rambouillet (Graham Rannie), 1st Fine Coloured CVM (Christel Lanthier), 1st Medium White Rideau Arcott (Leah Bouchard), 1st Long White, Reserve Champion Wensleydale/Texel (Gerry Oliver), 1st Long Coloured Supreme Champion Romney/Costwold (Gerry Oliver), 1st Speciality Icelandic (Julie Schneider)
There were 39 fleeces that filled all 4 categories; Fine, Med/Down, Long and Speciality. I was pleasantly surprised to see a breed I haven't encountered in my 10 years of judging and it was a Romeldale CVM (California Vertigated Mutant). My favourite fleece from a sheep named Patches (winner in the fine/coloured above) was one of these CVM entries and they were all really very nice.
Thank you to Gerry of course for all she does gathering all the fleeces, preparing the prizes and running the auction (amongst so many more tasks!). Also to my scribes Andrea and Kathleen, I couldn't have done it without you.
This week I was lucky enough to talk to Andrea Geary with the Western Producer about the role I play at the Manitoba Fibre Festival, Knit Natural and my 10 years as a wool judge. There were 2 others also interviewed; Angie Baloun from Manitoba and Shannon McDowall from Alberta. You can see that this festival gathers fibre lovers from across the Prairies and beyond.
This shawl has been created in honour of Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900). He was an Irish playwright, author and poet. He spent much of his days enjoying life to its fullest and sharing clever witticisms with everyone. He absolutely LOVED interesting names and “Speranza” is just that. It was also his mother’s pen name when she wrote fairy tales. (Besides, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde would be too long for a shawl name). If I could have lived in the Victorian Era, Oscar and I would be great friends, drinking absinthe (or Darjeeling tea), going on adventures and enjoying interesting company.
I wanted this shawl to reflect a similar style that the Victorians would wear, while also keeping it an accessory that would be fit for a well-dressed person regardless of gender. The stitch pattern creates O’s & W’s and is a simple repeat that also looks like books stacked on shelves.
“The mark of all good art is not that the thing done is done exactly or finely, for machinery may do as much, but that it is worked out with the head and the workman's heart.”
- Oscar Wilde
10 X 10 cm / 4 X 4 inch =18 stitches X 10 rows in dc (stitches unblocked)
Before Blocking: 32” X 27” X 23” (81 cm X 69 cm X 58 cm) (a, b, c)
After Blocking: 45” X 39” X 30” (114 cm X 99 cm X 76 cm) (a, b, c)
Abbreviations ~US Terms
Ch – chain
Dc – double crochet
Hdc – half double crochet
Puff – puff stitch (see special stitches below)
Sc – single crochet
Sk – skip stitch
St(s) – Stitch (es)
Yo – yarn over
Special stitches used:
Puff Stitch – YO, insert hook into indicated stitch. YO, pull up loop. (YO, insert hook into same stitch, YO, pull up loop) 2 times. YO, pull through 6 loops on hook, YO, pull through last 2 loops on hook
***The Release Date is September 13, 2019***
I wanted to create an oracle deck for knitters, which evolved into a deck for fibre artists. The pictures include finished objects, works in progress, handspun skeins, woven pieces, cats, wool, and more. All the images are my own. There is one image which doesn't have the greatest resolution - and that is the card with my Xena on it. She passed away last year at the age of 20 and I wanted to include her in this deck.
Includes a coupon code for a free copy of my soon-to-be-released Ebook (Knitted Mini Collection) called Insight which includes a Shawl/Foraging bag/Altar Mat, Tarot/Crystal Reticule, Necklace using Gemstones
This deck is meant to be used alongside your intuition. I am working on a separate guidesheet which will aid in keyword support.
This deck can be used alone or alongside your favorite tarot deck to give a greater insight into your readings. Since each card is inscribed with one word, there is no learning curve like traditional tarot. Use your intuition along with the images to unravel your answers/meanings.
Unraveled can be used daily as:
- A Divination Tool
- Connection to Spirit
- Dream Interpretation
- Self reflection
- An affirmation deck or gratitude focus
- To aid in journal prompts
- SO much more!
What is an Oracle Deck? It is very similar to a tarot deck as it is used as a tool for divination, guidance and self-reflection. What makes it different is there are no set suits (pentacles, cups, swords, wands) or archetypes needed to derive meanings from the images. Each card has an inspirational sentiment or thought which can then be used to delve deeper into the question or reading. Oracle decks don't require training of any sort.
2.75" X 4.75" (70×120mm)
Comes in a Cloth Bag with Hand Stamped Image
Unravel Your Path
I have just released a new shawl pattern on Ravelry called Windswept. It is a 2 colour asymmetric shawl with sections of lace and garter stripes. The yarn I used for this pattern was dyed by Ally of Dye for Ewe.
The prairies are well known for their winds. Between the Rocky Mountains, lakes, valleys and lack of trees in some areas, the winds have a mind of their own. Sometimes these winds are welcome to cool a hot summer day and other times they can be a big burden (chinook headaches), or cause destruction. I wanted to create a shawl with alternating sections of lace and garter stitch representing different winds across a landscape. I hope these winds carry you along and you enjoy knitting this shawl.
This shawl was designed for The Naked Sheep Yarn & Fibre Emporium’s Spring Retreat. The yarns dyed by Ally of Dye for Ewe are special colourways specifically dyed for this event.
This design has charts as well as written instructions
Using size 7 US (4.5mm) needles; 24 stitches and 32 rows in stockinette = 4” (10cm)
- Before Blocking: 23” X 28” X 37” (58 cm X 71 cm X 94cm) - After Blocking: 34.5” X 55” X 57” (88 cm X 140 cm X 145cm)Materials
-465 yards of fingering weight yarn in 2 colours
Samples knit in yarns below:
Dye for Ewe – Snug 465 yards (425.2 m) 115g 80% Merino 20% Nylon Colour A: Spring Showers Colour B: Blossom Olive Park Yarn - SW Merino Sock Weight 420 yards (384 m) 115g 80% Merino 20% Nylon Colour A: Box of Chocolate The Wacky Windmill – BFL Sock 400 yards (366 m) 100g 80% BFL, 20% Nylon Colour B: Kiss This
c2b – slip 2 stitches to a cable needle and hold in back of work, knit 2, knit 2 from the cable needle
c2f – slip 2 stitches to a cable needle and hold in front of work, knit 2, knit 2 from the cable needle
cdd – (centre double decrease) slip 2 stitches knitwise together, knit the next stitch, pass the slipped stitches over the stitch just knit.
k – knit
k2tog – knit 2 stitches together as if they were one
k3tog – knit 3 stitches together as if they were one
kfb – knit into the front and back of the stitch ktbl – knit through the back loop of the stitch
p – purl
p2tog – purl 2 stitches together as if they were one
p3tog – purl 3 stitches together as if they were one
rs – right side
skp – slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch
sk2p – slip 1, knit 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitches
ws – wrong side
yo – yarn over
I found an old crochet hat pattern I wrote to teach crochet classes about 11 years ago. Jeremy aptly named it Hatkuna Matata. I have just uploaded it to Ravelry, and also to my crochet patterns page.
If you would like to use it to teach someone how to crochet please do!
- Super bulky yarn (90 Yards) SMC Bravo
blp – back loop only ch - chain
dc – double crochet flp – front loop only
hdc – half double crochet rnd – round(s)
sc – single crochet sl st – slip stitch
st – stitch(s)
Hakuna Matata ~ it means “no worries”, a great philosophy, and a good basis for this hat. Easy to create and even easier to wear, and you will look good too! This hat can be made for men, women or children by adding or omitting extra repeats of round 5 in the crown. Embellish it as you like with big buttons, flowers or leave it simple.
It is literally faster to crochet this hat than it would be to go to the store and buy one. Take that Walmart!
I have been designing a new shawl pattern called Windswept for The Naked Sheep's Spring Retreat coming up at the end of April. It is a 2 colour asymmetric shawl with garter and lace sections. It has been tech edited and is currently being tested.
I changed the first lace section and added a few other differences. I am happy with the border as I made it up to work with my stitch count.
I am excited to show you the real deal when I finish as the yarn is 2 special colourway done up by the genius that is Ally of DyeforEwe. I can't wait for the reveal. Be on the look out for this design to get released at the end of April or early May.
I am SO, SO very happy with my Unraveled Oracle prototype that I received last week!! If you happened to check my flip through on Instagram Live I talked about some of the pictures and words. These are made from 330 gsm cardstock using a superior smooth matte finish that I am really happy with. The cards themselves are 2.75" X 4.75" so the same size as the well known Rider Waite Cards so they are easy to shuffle and handle. I made my cards borderless with images that are my own and have been taken throughout my fibre career.
Card images include works in progress, completed designs, past projects, weaving, spinning, crochet and knitting. There is only 1 image which isn't as crisp as the others and it is of my Xena (my baby for 20 years who passed away last year) I wanted to include her in this deck regardless. I will be making the font more clear, if you look close, there is some pixelation, that is an easy fix though. Other than that, I maybe writing a booklet to go along with the 70 cards to help with the messages.
To use these cards:
1) Breathe and calm your mind
2) While shuffling the deck, think of a question like; what energy should I focus on today, what messages should I be open to, what is my guidance on this project?
3) Draw a card and look at the image and the message. Does it spark an idea? Does it remind you of something? You can always draw more than one card as well to fill in the whole picture or gain more clarity.
4) Focus on the cards message throughout the day as a mantra or affirmation.
There is no right or wrong way to use this deck. I will also be including some simple spreads you can use and will perhaps do some readings at sales etc. I am hoping to have this deck completed and ready to go with a booklet and housed in a cloth bag for July 8th, which is International Tarot Day. I have been studying the tarot for the last 5 years and been a deck collector for over 20. I am glad to be able to combine a couple of my loves and offer something unique and fun. It will also include a coupon code for an upcoming mini collection e-book which you will get for free! I hope you are as excited as I am about this <3
I finished my Hotel of Bees Shawl by Christina Hadderingh recently and boy did I love entire process! The pattern is very well written and easy to follow. Each section is interesting enough to keep your focus and also jut the perfect length if you wanted to just work a section a night. I used Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Fragile & Hosta Blue. I did have quite a bit of yarn left over. I just love how it blocked out so nicely (Thank you Nicole). I am teaching 2 classes this month working through this shawl. Check my class schedule for dates/locations. I can't wait to hook my second one!
I've spun a few new skeins since my back surgery last fall. Some already have dibs on them, but the remainder will be listed in my Shop in the next little bit. I even have a new fibre (!) - Manx Loaghtan which was an interesting spin.
I have also been back full time into teaching classes. I've updated what I know of so far on my Classes page if you are interested in learning new and exciting things this year.
Here is a sneak peek:
If you are ever looking for a great crocheted mitt pattern that is super customizable and fits great then look no further than "The Perfect Fit Mittens" by Left in Knots. I use Malabrigo Worsted which is suuuuuper squishy and soft. This yarn was a gift from my Fibre Share partner this year and I have 1 more skein of it left! I think I will make a cowl or hat with that one. I finished these on the way to Edmonton and was able to wear them on my trip.
I had sent some of my older fleeces away earlier this year to the Dakota Fibre Mill for processing. As I'm sure is the same with many of you, I have more fleeces than I can process on my own. This was my first time sending fleeces away and my friend Nicole has had fibre processed at this mill in the past (she even took them down for me!) I sent of my very first fleece which was from a Corriedale sheep named Viv. I bought this one from Val Fiddler of Woolly Wool of the West when we took our Wool Judging course together in 2012. I also used this fleece in many of my classes as a great example of Corriedale. I didn't want it to continue to sit in my basement and now I can spin it up! It. Is. So. Wonderful! Val's fleeces are always exceptional and this one was no surprise. I also had a giant Rambouillet that I bought at the Drake Sheep Show & Sale several years ago. It was from a Manitoba Producer named Graham Rannie who I've not met on a bunch of occasions art different wool shows. He also won Grand Champion with his Rambouillet at the All Canada Classic in 2015. I knew a fleece of this size would be too much for me on my own and it is so fine, I was a bit scared I would wreck it so off that one went. The 3rd fleece I had processed is a Romney X.. and to be quite honest, I can't remember where I got that one but wow is it squishy. Overall I am so incredibly happy with the quality of the fibre and the care that went into making the roving. I paid $145 for the 3 fleeces which came out to 5 bags full. I will start spinning and weighting as I go. These will be sweaters FOR ME! They are so nice and light now without the lanolin, sweat, VM, etc. So light in fact that I dumped the entire Romney fleece out into the snow without even realizing - oops hah
I often get asked which mills will process single fleeces and besides the Dakota Fibre Mill you can now also process your fleeces at Long Way Homestead in Manitoba! Anna will be the next person I send my wool to (and I do have more of course).
really am happy that I could have each fleece kept separate. Especially for others like me who have special fleeces that they want to use for a specific project. I can't wait to show you how it all comes out!
I knit this hat a few years ago for my sister. I usually knit her a new hat every year. This one I made with bulky yarn using Paton's Classic Roving in one of my favourite colours. I wrote up the pattern and had some test knitters check it out. Last week my friend Nicole knit one in Cog Yarns Bulky 2 ply which I intend to do as well so I sent the pattern off to my Tech Editor Mandyz and it has now been released on Ravelry
Not only is this toque stylish, the stitch pattern combined with bulky wool makes this hat super thick and virtually
impenetrable. Wool is a great insulator in itself, but the design of this hat will trap warm air between the layers and keep you toasty all season. The brim can be knit longer and folded over for even more warmth in sub zero temperatures.
o Small: 18” (45.7 cm) circumfrence
o Medium: 22” (55.9 cm) circumfrence
o Large: 25” (63.5 cm) circumfrence
Using size 10 US (6.0mm) needles; 15 stitches and 20 rows in stockinette = 4” (10cm)
- Bulky yarn (samples knit in yarns below)
Cog Yarns Bulky 2-Ply (purple/white hat size medium)
80% SW Merino/20% Nylon (1, 1, 2 skeins)
“Sweet Dreams” 185 yards (170 m) 200 g
Patons Classic Roving (yellow hat size small)
100% Wool (1.5, 2, 2 balls)
“Yellow” 120 yards (109 m) 100 g
o k – knit
o k2tog – knit 2 stitches together as if they were one
o k2sltog – knit the sl2tog stitches as if they were one
o p – purl
o sl – slip stitch
o sl2tog – slip 2 stitches knitwise as if they were one
This year was yet another wonderful success and as always, the highlight of my year! I was SOOOO busy and exhausted from teaching 5 days and recovering after only 4 weeks after back surgery but it was worth it! I was also able to take a class this year and I chose natural dying taught by Caitlin Ffrench!!
We learned a lot of cool info about natural dyes and she showed us all the colours she can make just by using plants and such from her landshed. We also learned that all the tartan colours for the different clans were made using the dyes they could make from their own surroundings. So if there was a mountain separating 2 clans their landshed could be totally different from one another and the colours that could be made would reflect that. We received some pretty cool samples in silk, wool and cotton and she even gave us a few recipes for botanical inks.
I also loved ash alberg's display with her naturally dyed yarns <3
The socks I designed using Cog Yarns were also in the fashion show at the festival. It was really cool to see all the different designs come together on the stage.
Thank you to everyone who came to visit Jeremy and I at our booth. I always have the best time and was happy that many of my friends from Saskatchewan could make it out as well.
This year I taught both levels 1 & 2 of Wool Judging at the Manitoba Fibre Fest. It was an intensive 3 days of looking at the good and bad in many different breeds and fleeces.
At the end of level 2 there was a written exam as well as a practical judging portion. Every student did exceptional!
Above are examples of some of the very beautiful fleeces which were excellent examples of their breeds.
This fleece on the other hand is a VERY BAD example. It weighs 26 lbs!! This fleece came from a medium breed with the locks well over a foot long. It is a bit hard to see in the pictures but it also show canary stain which is unscorable. This fleece shows bad animal health, bad animal care and it should NOT be supported in any way. Locks WAY too long for breed type is not a luxury. It is animal abuse. This case was different from Shrek in the fact that this sheep did not escape and hide in the mountains, it was living on a farm not getting sheared. Yearly shearing is important for the sheep's health. The sheep that carried this 26 lbs of extra wool would have been very uncomfortable. It's skin would not be able to breath and bacteria grew rampant. Please keep this in mind when you see overgrown fleeces/lock online or in the field.
Most of our 2 classes were here for the certificate award ceremony. Many thanks to Gerry (3rd from left) who coordinated the course as well as sourcing all the fleeces and providing an insight that was immeasurable to class participants. Much thanks also to Wool Growers who provided learning materials, funding and backed the courses and provided the certificates.
If you are ever interested in wool judging keep an eye out for upcoming courses with the Manitoba Fibre Fest.
I wanted to make a bunch of the Manitoba Fibre Fest Collection patterns this year. I decided to cast on Ice Flow by Johanna Giesbrecht using Feet of Clay Ceramic's colourway dyed by Cog Yarns. All of these women were vendors at the festival as well. The other awesome thing is the yarn went perfect with my newly made Carson Dress sewn specifically for the weekend :) and of course my Jul designs Sheep shawl stick.
I tried to to a lot of spinning for the Tour this year. While I didn't really have a strict goal I had fun. I spun 5 bobbins that still need to be plied and 5 skeins. I was also working on my 2 support spindles which are handmade by local makers. I will focus more on those as soon as I finish my fibre with them.
I also received my NEW wheel!!!! This one replaces the wheel that was stolen in my car earlier this year. I wanted to keep with the same wheel as I loved it and I still have parts for it. This time though I got the walnut stain <3!! I bought it from Jo's Yarn Garden in Stony Plain, Alberta. Joanne was such a pleasure to deal with!! I am smitten with my new Kromski Sonata.
I miss my old spinning wheel bag which was made by Blue Mountain Handcrafts... but when I laid eyes on this Tom Bihn Quarter Packing Cube, I knew it would make the perfect replacement. I will devote a blog post soon to this bag. It really is perfect.
I feel so good to be able to finally replace some of the items lost in Feb. I have been so grateful for friends and my fibre community for lending and supplying me with all the tools I have needed to keep going.
But...... wait there's more!
Look. At. What. I. Won!! This beauty is my newest treasure handmade by an amazing woman named Jenny Noland. She is an AMAZING fibre worker in our community, a friend and a whiz at everything she does. Jenny is truly a Master Crafter, from spinning, knitting, weaving, lampwork, wood turning and more. I am so lucky to know such a talented woman. So, Jenny has been working with her lathe and making spindles. You should check her instagram feed to see all she creates. I was the luckiest of all to win one of her new spindles!! I was looking for a beautiful fibre to start spinning and found some baby camel in my stash. More to come on this!
Registrations are soon to open for the long awaited Manitoba Fibre Festival!
If you are interested in learning more about wool than you ever expected and getting down and greasy in a hundred fleeces then you will want to sign up for the Wool Judging classes which are now open for registration! Both level 1 & 2 are offered this year. Once completion you will receive a certificate. This is a very informative course and people take it for lots of different reasons.
Wed Sept 12 - Level 1 (9 - 5)
Thurs Sept 13 - Level 1 (9 - 12)
* this is a 1 1/2 day class
Thurs Sept 13 - Level 2 (1 - 5)
Fri Sept 14 - Level 2 (9 - 12)
* must have level 1 as a prerequisite
I took this course in Olds in 2012 and have been working in the field since then. Out of all I do, wool judging is what I love most.
I will also be teaching a Fleece to Finish class on Friday
from 2 - 4:30
If you are interested in learning more about wool fleeces and how to choose a fleece at an auction or wool show you will want to sign up.
In this workshop I will take the fear out of buying and processing fleeces. We will discuss what to look for in a fleece and what to avoid as well as how to read the information on a judging card. We will look at 3 different wool breeds and discuss how to choose a fleece with an end use in mind. I will also talk about storing, washing and processing a fleece by hand using carders, and combs.
On Sat Sept 15 from 9 - 12 is my Learn to Spin on a Drop Spindle class
Ever wanted to learn how to make yarn by hand? In this class you will learn the time honoured tradition of spindling. We will be using a top whorl spindle to learn how to create your own leader, manage twist, understand the drafting zone and draft continuously, build a cop and prepare your spun singles for plying. We will also discuss spindle types, fibre preparations, and finishing techniques. Perfect for beginners.
On Aug 2 these and many other great classes are available for registration. Can't wait to see you there!
Our fibre community on Regina here kicked off Tour de Fleece at The Naked Sheep. It was a good day full of food, laughs and breathing in the fibre fumes. My goals this year are to spin down my stash (not much left) and work on 2 support spindle projects.
With the french spindle I am spinning a new to me fibre: Pearl. It is a biodegradable cellulose fibre with freshwater pearl dust in it. Not sure how I feel just yet but it is interesting. It is a good moisture absorber and it even has a UV protection factor greater than 30! That's kinda neat. Watch for new spindle reviews coming up a bit later.
I spun a bobbin and plied 3 skeins. The one on the left is Merino/Bamboo from last months Spunky Club and the other 2 are Sweet Georgia BFL. Are you participating this year? What are your goals?
It's been a while since the Etsy Team Captain's Summit in Toronto but we finally received pictures from the event. Usually I try to stay invisible but I was captured in a couple.
This was a hard trip for me. First off I am afraid of flying. I try not to let that hold me back but Benadryl was my friend to help me get through. Secondly, I received a call from work on the second day and was told my co-worker Kirk had passed away. I work in a mechanical contractors office and I worked very closely with Kirk. He was a hard ass to the guys but they knew it was because Kirk held a high standard when it came to doing a good job and working hard. Everyone admired him and since he was secretly sick, all were shocked to hear of his passing. Kirk was 56. He was the man who made work fun; always joking and making up songs and strange dances. He loved donuts and if you wanted one you had to get in there pretty damn quick. He loved dogs and Princess Auto (aka the place which cannot be named).
I knew when I left that there could be a chance I would get the call. Kirk has had skin cancer his whole life. He got it when he suffered from psoriasis and was told this UV box thing would help (they did give warnings about cancer). He could easily get an infection if he bumped his hand or any little cut. He had been dealing with infections over the past couple year. We found out he had cancer in his groin this year. It was operable and he had his surgery. He didn't want anyone to know about it. The surgery, and an infection in his back that wasn't getting proper treatment was too much for him to deal with.
There has been a major presence missing at work here. I still walk into his office and look around. It's not his anymore. His stuff isn't in there. He isn't there. I put a phantom crystal in his office to try to hold his presence, or for the next person who take residence in there, to know that he is in the walls. Kirk had worked for Christie Mechanical since he was 18. I feel I haven't really dealt with his death and maybe others at work too. We still talk about him like he is still working; "Kirk wants it this way", "Kirk always said we should...", "Kirk told me that..."
While I was in Toronto I also saw the extent to a new issue in my body. I wasn't able to walk for more than half a block before I needed to rest. My left leg was numb and I was in A LOT of pain. I had to use a wheelchair to make my way around the museum. I felt terrible because I wasn't able to get around and felt that I was a drag on the trip. We couldn't check out much of what we wanted because I wasn't able to walk even down the road. I had an MRI the day I came back (right before Kirk's funeral) and found out I have 2 herniated discs which is what has been causing the pain in my leg. I am currently waiting for surgery on that. In the meantime I can't walk very well and I can't stand . This is all on top of my regular nerve pain near my ribs on my right side. This pain moves around, shocks me every now and then burns, pinches, is numb, etc etc. I sleep A LOT. About a year ago, I would sleep all weekend maybe once every 3 months or so. Now it is every weekend. I am sleeping more than awake. This has been causing me a lot of stress, anxiety and guilt. I don't know if this will ever go away. My doc has labeled it Fibromyalgia but I'm not certain. I am now on my own with healing and have found the more alternative/holistic approaches have helped me more than medical treatments (which leave me hurting, frustrated and no further than before). I have never dealt with chronic pain before and never realized how isolating and lonely it really is (going on 8 years for me now). Invisible illnesses are REAL. I don't look sick to you, but I feel pain all over. It has taken over my whole life. I struggle to get out of bed and get ready for the day. I struggle with body image because my pills make me gain weight. I look at myself in the mirror and I have aged more in the past couple years. I am disappointed with myself .
As many of you may know, we also had our car stolen right before we were on our way to work one day and I lost all my tools and equipment as I was teaching 4 classes at that time. I have been so humbled for many of you and the community that is fibre people helping me by donating items back to me and looking out for my stuff online etc. You are my heart. This was also the month I lost my everything, my Xena, who was my best friend for the last 20 years. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make and one of my worst fears. I think about her a lot and see her every now and then in my dreams. <3
We also lost a second co-worker a month later. Doug Purcell. He had passed away from cancer as well. I still hear his laugh. He was the maintenance manager and also only 56.
If you have read this far my friend, thank you. This post wasn't meant to be this way but I am glad to have gotten it out. My therapist told me to write about Kirk and Xena etc and my fingers just kept typing. I don't mean for this to be a sob story and I am not looking for sympathy. Just wanting people to understand that what you see on the outside is not what is inside. Please be patient with me.