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Thursday, April 28, 2011

A weekend away

Just for me and some friends; should be plenty of photo's of crafting goodness when I get back. 
We'll be off to a camp, hope it's not too cold, taking the wheel and some knitting; look for some beautiful yarn and knitting on Monday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A very changed city

Today was a fine day and we had to go to Linwood to pick something up from Thomas' parents place, on the way back we decided to park the car and go have a look at the part of town on the east side next to the cordoned area.   This was a day I really regretted not having a good DSLR camera, but I did the best I could with the little point and shoot that I have.   Most of the shots I took have some personal significance to me, though there are a couple that don't.   I'll be posting photo's and then a quick note on what the building is if I know and what the significance is if any.

Both these photo's are of an old house I used to drive past all the time on Barbadoes St, it's a 2-storey brick house with a lovely balcony.  Always a little sad looking, like it needed some TLC, but still charming in its own way.  It now has its very own cordon, part of the back wall has fallen out already and some of the right front as well.  Considering the original state of it I can't see this one being repaired; I suspect the owner will take the insurance money and flatten it.

Most people will know this one from the news, this was the CTV building, or what's left of it.  Although of no personal significance in that I was lucky enough to not know anyone who died in there personally, I know many people who knew people in there.   I used to walk past it whenever I went to the gym, and it just looks wrong with the building gone.   Such a sad place, I hope they put something suitable there for remembrance, we'll just have to wait and see.

I'm pretty sure this house belonged to the aunt of a work friend back when I worked in 128, unfortunately that friend passed on some years back, and if her aunt is still around she won't be moving back here.  This lovely building despite obviously being taken care of is red stickered.  There's some fairly major cracking on the upright to the right of the main window.

Hereford House, once again no personal significance, just a lovely house which I think may have been a church residence at one point.  I hope they can save it, but not too optimistic.  The next building down was also yellow stickered, I think St John were in there at one point.   The next building down again:
This beautiful church which I used to walk past and admire; it's a mess now, but more upright than many of our old churches.  We passed one that I took a photo of that I'm not posting here simply because you'd never even know it was there; only the foundation remains and that shows no hint of the magnificent building that was once there.  I really hope that there is some way to save these, they are very much a part of our heritage, but there will be a huge amount of money required to fix this, I would expect that it needs deconstruction and then rebuilding from scratch with earthquake protection built into the structure; not too many churches will be insured to that point unfortunately.

Beaufort house, this used to be Dorothy's restaurant.  Thomas and I went there a couple of times pre-children and the food was divine.  The proprieters were a gay couple who unfortunately occasionally let their relationship squabbles spill over into the dining room.  I don't know who owns it now, but I think it might have been an upmarket B&B.  This is another I really hope they can save, going by the sign it certainly looks like they're going to try which is encouraging.

That pile of rubble behind the digger?  That was Avonmore House which was an English Language school and a restaurant.  It was being used as an indicator building to see how bad aftershocks were affecting the old masonry buildings.  Obviously it got too dangerous.  It was also a lovely building, no more.

You've probably seen this one in newspapers, a good gaming friend of ours used to live in the top left front bedsit in here.  The place was a bit of a hole (you didn't want to use the bathroom if you know what I mean), however the house next door was the same style but was done up and looked magnificent.   If someone had done that to this old lady who knows what difference it would have made.  The friend who lived here unfortunately passed away some years back as well, he would have hated seeing this place in this condition.  Most of the houses with this sort of damage were brick, this one is timber so is all the more shocking for it as most timber buildings coped reasonably well.  The one timber building I'm aware of that did worse was the old club building on Latimer Square; I couldn't get a good photo of that with my camera though.  It collapsed completely, luckily it was empty at the time as they were getting ready to work on it.

The Harcourts building, the top floor is a mess, don't know if it'll be saved or not, no great loss and it did it's job; everyone got out.

These two houses belong to the mother of a friend, she was very lucky, the top picture of the big hole?   That used to be the header tank, she had been in the kitchen and had just left when it came through the roof and took out the area she had been in.   She's been very lucky, her home should be repairable, and she's been able to move her stuff out in the meantime.  The centre spine of the building is a brick firewall, apparently it's dropped quite a bit.  The building that was the same next to it has been demolished.  I've been in the house in better times, it is absolutely gorgeous and I really hope it can be rescued.

Even amongst all this destruction there is still fun and beauty.  Autumn is here and the trees are lovely and all those leaves make for fun for small boys, George and Ian had great fun kicking through the leaves!

This empty lot used to be Piko Wholefoods; they will rebuild, but it won't be the same.  This was a wonderful wee store, not related to Wholefoods in the US.  They sold organic and GF foods as well as other stuff like the wonderful parchment paper we used for baking.  Not sure when I'll be able to get that again.

On the left is the city firestation.  The main building is ok, but many others were yellow stickered so they've moved all the stuff from those buildings into the one that would normally have the engines in it.  The engines have now been moved into this plastic shelter which has the advantage that the engines can't get trapped if another aftershock should damage their building.  A very sensible thing IMO.

Probably not a lot to say after all that except that things will get better, Christchurch will rise from the rubble and we will be stronger, though that would be much easier if all these aftershocks would stop!

Going to get back to spinning now, currently working on some batts that I made last night.  Will post photo's once it's finished.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make do and Mend

That's what I decided to do with my one remaining pair of Merino/Possum socks.  They normally only get worn in bed and have worn really thin on the heel
Normal darning wasn't an option as it needed to stretch, duplicate stitch was going to take forever, so instead I picked up some stitches and started knitting
On the way down I picked up a stitch on the starting side of each new row, and about every 4th row I picked up 4 stitches as I went and knit them together with the needled stitches so that the old was connected to the new
A couple of hours later and both socks had knitted on patches, still comfy and should last a couple more years all going well.

I got to a certain point with Amory
and despite loving it realised I won't ever get the chance to wear it.   It's extremely elegant and would look lovely in an airconditioned office, but not so good at home or out shopping.  As a result I've frogged it and have now cast on for an adult sized Spring Garden Tee which should get a lot more wear next summer
I've only got the cast on done so far as there was much else to do today, being first day of the holidays.
I've hanked up my last lot of spinning which I can't show you atm as it's going to be part of a swap, it's a lovely blue Perendale though, whomever gets it should love it.   I've also hemmed the curtains for the sliding door and put them up, still one lot to go, but it looks great!
They're still a touch long, but I like that, the other ones let a draft in.  Ian loved the box they arrived in this morning
He looks contemplative.

I've pulled out of the shawl test I was going to do, the date being put back clashed with other things I needed to do, so it was better as there was no way I could manage everything.   Hopefully this way the Spring Garden Tee will get finished and I'll have a chance to do George's mittens (if he's dry for 7 days in a row).  He did 5, then 1 wet so we started again with a dry this morning.  Fingers crossed.
I've also ordered some yarn for Mum to knit him another plain jersey and found a jacket pattern that will hopefully work with the coned yarn she's got.  The one I like best is an American College style jacket that would look really cool.

Tomorrow is supposed to be fine, hope they're right as it would be nice to go to the gardens or somewhere for a part of the day; some family time.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Change of direction

We got the new curtain rail installed, made all the measurements for both the new rail and the old one in the bow window and worked out minimum fabric requirements.   I was 11m short of what I needed unfortunately so the fabric I was going to use has gone back into the sewing room for later use in the boys room.   In the meantime some calculations were required.   It was determined that to get new fabric was going to be over $700, assuming we could find something we liked around $20pm.  That was more than we wanted to spend, way more. 
We ended up looking at premades.  Looked at The Warehouse and also Millers; I found one I liked at The Warehouse which surprised me.  Millers had nothing I liked and they were more expensive, the quality was the same too.   We ended up going with The Warehouse, have ordered them, just waiting for them to be delivered now, not sure how long that'll take but hoping not too long as it's getting colder.

These are the curtains we're getting, $365 including postage.  Had to get the 2 biggest sizes to fit our windows, and I'll likely have to turn the hem up on one, but that's better than paying through the nose for customs.   Once EQC have assessed the place we can repaint as well, the colour we're using is a nice ripe wheat colour which should look fantastic with these curtains.

Getting onto other matters, namely knitting.   I've finished the first Bug Out Mitten
 I'm not happy with where the thumb joins to the gusset.  There's a slight jog in the colours.  I'm going to try something different for the next one, going to try knitting the thumb from the tip down as well and joining to the main part and then continuing on, the first version will work fine for plain mittens, you'd not notice any jog, but it doesn't work for the colourwork.  The second mitten has to wait a bit though as I have 2 time-sensitive projects to do first.

I've also got another mitten project in the planning stages, it'll be child sized for my eldest son.  He suffers from night time bed wetting and is actually doing really well with this improving.   He was told by the nurse we go to see that if he can be dry for 7 nights in a row then he'll get a special treat.   Luckily I had something in mind as he's been admiring my beetles.   I told him if he can then I'll design and knit him a pair of skull and crossbone mittens.  He's really, really pleased with this idea.  I've done the basic design stuff including the chart and I've got the yarn.  Black and off-white in JohnQ four ply which should work really well.   If need be I'll bump other stuff down the list to finish these, this is very important.

In the meantime I've got to the fifth repeat on my Citron shawl, there will be at least 2 more repeats as I still have a lot of yarn left.   The photo doesn't do it justice, I need to get it on a longer cable to be able to see it properly, but here it is:

I love handspun yarn, no-one else will have one just like this, and it should be a grand size just in time for winter all going well.

Tonight I cast on one of my time-sensitive projects.  This is Amory by Kim Hargreaves, it's a beautiful, elegant jersey and I'm knitting it for the Colourmart summer contest.  Not expecting to win anything with it, but it means I get to use some absolutely lovely silk/cashmere yarn with beautiful drape.  I'm knitting it in lilac, so use your imagination
This is the yarn:

I have 6 weeks to get this finished.  I also have another shawl I'll be test knitting for, it was originally going to be ready to knit on 11th April, but has now been put back to the 18th.  Fingers crossed.  My yarn is ready to go, using a sport weight cashmere/wool blend (Madelinetosh Pashmina from memory).

My main problem is going to be it's school holidays for the next 2 weeks so I won't get as much knitting time as normal, especially as I still have to work.  However, Liz (my Mother-in-Law) has agreed to take the boys overnight on the second week, Thomas has part of the first week off and I have a weekend craft getaway so I'll be able to get some done in those times.   School holidays will be a bit of a challenge.  Not much spare money and a lot of places I'd normally go to are off-limits after the earthquake.   Thomas will take them swimming a few times, a few park visits, some movies at home as well.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Winter is coming

and it's time to think about fixing our curtains.  The ones we have at the moment have done us well in the lounge, but a combination of age, children and kittens has taken its toll.   The ones on the sliding door in particular are not feeling well.  Hooks have been ripped out due to the boys pulling on them, wrapping themselves in them and generally misbehaving with them.  There are cat marks from the kittens climbing up when they were smaller and the hems are coming undone too.
The tracks aren't the best either, they're not really long enough so the curtain is in the way when going through the door even when drawn open completely.  They're also attached to the door frame so the aforementioned misbehaving by boys has resulted in the screws opening up the wood.
You can't shut them properly now, so today I finished getting what I need to make new ones.   I already had the fabric from one of Millers sales a few years ago
It's the purply one in the middle, got the curtain tape a couple of weeks back, but couldn't get started until I got this:
This is an adjustable track 2.9-4m; we need it set to about 3m so it'll be good and once we install it this weekend then I can measure and start making the new ones.
I don't need to purchase anything new now to get these made, so it's just a matter of time now, want to try and get them done in the next week as school holidays start the following week.
Sometime in the next week or so I also need to get some new school tops, some surge protectors for our bigger appliances (washing machine, dishwasher etc) and maybe some more storage containers for the kitchen.  The storage isn't important though, I did pick up these 2 beauties yesterday
The top one will be for flour probably, the bottom also for flour, but the 5kg bags of Hi-grade so I'm not dealing with paper bags that tend to break open when the boys drag them out of the cupboard.   I'm doing a bit more baking at the moment and I want to keep that up so good storage is a must.
This is what the boys and I made yesterday
My Gran's chocolate cake, I've ammended the recipe to add more cocoa, but it's a lovely, simple chocolate cake that turns out well even when the oven is playing up
Ginger fudge slice, this is a biscuit based slice with chocolate icing, yummy!

I'll be doing more baking, but our oven is a little dodgy atm.  Since Feb 22nd it's had some issues, the elements are running hotter, one in particular is much much hotter, and it turns out that the actual oven part is also hotter.   We've put this in on our earthquake claim as well as the washing machine which is sometimes not starting properly, well it starts and then decides to go back to ready.   It's an intermittent fault, but it's post earthquake as is the noise it now makes and the occasional leak.   Earthquakes are not good for appliances!  The claim is in, just have to hope that it gets approved quickly so I can go out and get new ones.   I know what I want, but don't really want to get them until I know we have the funds.
I hope everyone else getting new appliances on insurance is looking at the star labels too, we want efficient appliances, or at least as efficient as can be managed on our budget.

Getting off the depressing earthquake appliance thing, I've been doing more work on my Diotima Shell
Just a teaser at this point I'm afraid, this is in Noro Silk Mountain which is now discontinued, it's a boucle which I love and is being knit in rib.   Haven't tried it on except to check that my head goes through the top, which it does.   Using all of 5 balls of yarn, so basically knitting till I run out; this is a stashbusting exercise.   I've 3 more colours in this yarn which will be used for a hat or two and hopefully a Liesl.  Hoping it'll look good in that.  In Rav it's down as a super bulky, but I think it's really more Aran weight, doesnt' knit up right for super bulky.  Won't be able to work on the hats just yet though, this should be finished tomorrow, just in time to start a shawl I'm test-knitting and then work on a jersey I'm knitting from Colourmart yarn as part of a summer KAL.
Gotta go, lots to do!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

What are you looking at?

Day seven: 3rd April. Your knitting and crochet time.

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

I craft at different times.  If I have a time-sensitive project such as a couple coming up mid-month then I'll be knitting frantically while the boys are at school as well as just before bed.  I can't knit most evenings as I work then, but I do take the odd night off.
I also tend to knit while waiting at appointments, while watching movies at home and after earthquakes.   I'm to be found in front of the computer on the comfy ergonomic chair, in bed, sitting at school waiting for the boys.  I'm usually surrounded by a bit of a mess as I tend to choose knitting over tidying my work area.   Once the time sensitive stuff is done though I'll have to do some cleaning, tidying and sewing.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Something to aspire to.

Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft?

There are two patterns I aspire to doing, both require a lot of work and skill but they use different skills.   Both are a wee bit down my queue as well cos  they're a little scary.

The first is the Winter Wonderland Coat.  It's scary because it's big and got plenty of cables.  I've already got the yarn I'm going to use, Purewool Merino 3-ply in the colourway named Storm which is a deep plum.  In the meantime I'm working up to it by doing a Central Park Hoodie with a more complicated cable pattern; at least I will be once my current projects are finished, including the KAL and pattern testing I've committed to in the next month.

The second I'm working my way up to, I'll post photo's of what I'm going to knit first to get my  tension correct and the last photo will be the ultimate colourwork jersey that I'm aiming for.
The first step is the Nightingale sock pattern by Morag of Vintage Purls; I actually have the kit, but might change the colour for the birds as I feel they disappear a bit.

Gryffindor Pride socks by Ann Kingstone, I've bought the pattern, the background will be knit in Patonyle Red, the lions will probably be either in Honey Bear (brown/yellow) or Clemantine (shades of orange) by Vintage Purls.

Another Ann Kingstone design, this is the Knitcamp Vest.  I printed this out back when it was free and ordered the yarn kit from Jamieson and Smith all in Shetland wool; I love their wool and I'm pretty sure there will be some steeking in this so the Shetland will be a good choice.

Queen of Scotts from The New Stranded Colorwork by Mary Scott Huff.  She used Jamieson's yarn from memory, but I prefer Jamieson and Smith so worked out equivilents and ordered from my favourite.  This one definitely has steeking in it.

This is what I'm aiming at.  This is Henry VIII by Alice Starmore.  I've bought the kit for this as the book is out of print.  So I've got a box with the pattern and the full compliment of yarn in the above colours in her Hebridean yarn.  It wasn't cheap so I have to make sure I know what I'm doing before I tackle this one.

In the meantime I'm still working on my Bug-Out mittens which are giving me a little more experience in stranded colourwork and also designing.   Designing is probably my final goal.  I've done the wee socks and working on the gloves but would love to design something in the way of a cardigan or jersey.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Interweave Crochet Spring 2011

I suspect this might be the last one on my subscription, and if I had the money it might persuade me to keep getting it.  Unfortunately I don't have the money though, and I've not yet done much crochet so it's not worth it anyway.   I have some crochet books too, so when I do get started I have plenty of options; several of which are in this magazine!

On to the review:
Bluebell Cardigan - This is rather pretty, sleeves are a touch too long for the model, but it fits well aside from that and appears to have some shaping.   Would be a lovely coverup for coolish autumn/spring days.

Freesia Pullover - This does absolutely nothing for me, something about it screams '80's, all it's missing is the shoulder pads.  It's shapeless and would be impossible to fit a coat over.  Only thing I like about it is the colour.

Dahlia Shawl - this on the other hand is beautiful!   Lovely main pattern and the edging is gorgeous too.   It seems to sit well on the model too.   I think this may actually be queued, don't know when it'll get done as I don't think my crochet skills are up to it yet, but it's something to aim for.

Dew Drop Bracelet - Meh.   This is really not something I'd ever make, and I can't really find anything in it that I like, the greeny one looks like an accident and the red one looks like meat.

Zoe Cardigan - Cute enough, but looks very much like the stuff in my '70's crochet book.  Nothing new.

Magic Carpet Blanket - This I rather like, reminds me of a quilt and should be fairly easy for me to do if I choose to.  Will have to think on it though, it's a lot of work.

Clarence the Monkey - Very cute wee amigurimi monkey, would consider making this to see if I like making amigurimi.  Looks like it's all in single crochet which I can definitely manage; but no way would i be doing it in acrylic (I think that's what Red Heart Soft is)

Broomstick Lace - This is an article on how to do it, which considering there's a pattern further into the book that uses it could be considered to be useful.  It doesn't appeal that much to me, but looks like it should be pretty easy.

Cupcake Sweater - I like the wee sleeves on this, but not sure about the top part, seems too dense for the rest.  I think I'd want less of an angle on the peplum opening too, just doesn't look quite right to me.  I'm pretty sure this model is the same as the one in the next picture, but the top just kills her beautiful figure.  In this she has no bust or waist.

Petal Pullover - This is gorgeous!  Seems to have some shape, nice smooth scooped neck and a short sleeve which works well with the rest of the top.  Would work brilliantly over a long-sleeved top as in the photo, but I could also see it over a camisole top on a warmer day.   They've used what I think is a linen yarn, but I think it would work well in a wool too.

Chamomile Cardigan - This is the broomstick lace project, this is pretty, reminds me of something that a Victorian lady might wear over her nightgown, but it's not something that would be practical in my lifestyle.

Chain Reaction Afghan Project - This is basically a selection of different granny squares that can be used in a blanket (afghan).  I really like 3 of them, the other 2 are ok, but would probably look a lot better in different colours; I really have problems seeing past burnt orange and faded lime.

Ginger Sweater - Very cute for a wee girl, though I don't know if I'd use a contrast for the lace ruffle.

Fred Sweater - Looks like something my Grandfather would have worn while everyone else in the family flinched and tried not to look at him.  I think it's all the pockets; maybe with only 1 or 2 pockets, but even then I wouldn't put my children in it.

Daisy and Mini Dresses - In a different colourway this would be really cute, again with the faded lime green for some reason.   In shades of blue I think it would work well.

Hannah and Hallie Play Sets - This is a mix of crochet and knitting on one of the sets, and all crochet on the other one.  Same styling in both of a wee 3/4 sleeved top and a pair of woolen trousers.  I think these are kind of cute and I could see real children wearing them without bribery and corruption coming to play.

Hialeah Bag - A nice bag, once again with the faded lime, but I can see past that on this one and would consider making it with some pockets inside the lining.

Orlando Vest - Looks like brown chainmail, definitely not on the list for me.

Coral Springs Sweater - Don't know why they're calling it a sweater, it's an open vest.  Semantics aside though it's actually quite nice; something you'd grab on the way out the door when you realise it's not quite as warm as it looked.

Overall Impressions: It has some really nice stuff in it, some awful stuff and some Meh stuff.  There is a lot of stuff for children in it, normally there's just one or two items.  If you like crochet for children I'd get it.  I'm glad I have it, but not too upset that I won't be getting any more.

Now, time to get knitting.  I have a swatch to do for the Amory jersey for my Colourmart knit along, and I frogged my socks last night and have cast on with a new pattern which seems to suit the yarn much better.

Day Five: 1st April. And now for something completely different

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