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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Of small boys painting

This morning we insisted the boys spend some time outside and when Thomas asked Ian what he wanted to paint he said he wanted to paint their hut.   Thomas found some paint and then the boys had to brush down the hut before starting.
While they were doing that I took some more test shots with the camera; tried out sports mode on Star kitty
I was surprised just how quickly the next shot was taken, though she had her eyes closed so I'm not posting it here.   I also took some photo's of our Peony's as they're likely to be going, the area they're in is infested with kikuyu grass and I'm figuring that the best way to deal with that is simply to mow it down on a regular basis.  I'll try to move the Peony's as I do love them, but most don't like being moved and of course I'll have to make sure there's none of the kikuyu in there too.

Aren't they glorious?   They do well in Christchurch because we get the hard frosts, this was one of the first honey bees I've seen so far this season which is a worry, though it could be due to the clover in the lawn not yet being in flower.   Love the photo's this camera is taking, that bee was really clear!

The painting didn't last all that long unfortunately, Ian started painting his brother and he was just globbing the paint everywhere so Thomas stepped in; this is what Ian looked like at the end
it's too bright to really see, but there's paint on his face, legs and all over his clothes.  He then tried to take my camera to take a photo, but for some strange reason I wouldn't let him.   No way he's getting this camera to play with, I might let him use the point and shoot, but not the good one.

Spent the afternoon working and then got some plying done.   I've plied off some leftovers at the end:
This is 66m of Alpaca/Merino/Mohair plied with Merino/Silk.  Yummy!

The 2 I actually planned were the 3-ply Wisteria BFL Superwash
211.5m in this one, I don't know what weight yet, will know after it's washed and whacked later in the week.

and finally:
This is Alpaca/Mohair/Merino and is plied, but still needs skeining up.  Loving the colours in this, reminds me of oil on the water.    Hopefully I'll get it plied tomorrow.

In knitting news, Thomas' final sock is now past the heel turn, yay!    So just 35 rows of stocking stitch then an interminable amount of 2x2 ribbing to go.   I'm hoping to get it finished this week so I can cast on for the Baby Surprise Jacket.

School again tomorrow, not sure about soccer for Ian at least as he's got a nasty cough, it's not too bad during the day but tends to kick in during the evening and I suspect that vigorous exercise is not ideal.   Got Ian's student led conference after school too, that'll be interesting.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Of icing and ducklings

After school the day before yesterday we made the icing for our gingerbread and we all did some icing. Ian chose pink, George chose blue and I got green.  We made royal icing for the first time ever and it worked well; the icing bags are glad bags with the corners cut off.
I showed them what to do and then they did their own interpretations.  You can see the concentration!

Yesterday on the way home from dropping off the boys I heard some peeping from the drain and had to come back with my camera; very hard to get a good shot when you're not used to the camera and also the lighting in there wasn't good and I didn't want to use the flash and scare them
Can you tell what they are?  4 wee ducklings; no sign of Mum and this morning there was only one and no sign of Mum.  This afternoon no ducklings at all, but no signs of wee corpses either so I'm hopeful Mum found somewhere better for them to live.

I'm in the midst of sorting out birthday party stuff; bought some fabric crayons and pillowcases and they're going to decorate their own pillowcases as well as the treasure hunt; gives them something to take home that's not a bunch of lollies too.  I've got the press to set them too so it should go well and should appeal to both boys and girls.  Also got the balloons and party blowers and cheerios (cocktail sausages for the non-NZers reading).   I've also taken time to cut out fabric for a tiered skirt for me; with enough left over for a top.  Also a couple of t-shirts for me and will do a couple for the boys too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I had a quick look in Ian's birthday cookbook while the boys were at school and found a recipe for gingerbread.   I'd been looking for one for a while now and I decided that's what we'd do when the boys got home from school
This is the book:
Although I'm pretty sure I've got gingerbread recipes in other books I've never managed to find one.  I have made gingercake before which was yummy, but we have Christmas cookie cutters that we wanted to use.
So, we followed the recipe, got it all mixed, kneaded and then had to wait an hour.   The boys were very patient and at the end of that hour the mix was rolled out (a cooperative effort) and then the cookies cut.
Into the oven for 10 minutes and this was the result

 They were very yummy, Ian kept sneaking back to get more, so once they'd cooled I had to place them into storage so we can ice them tomorrow.  The kitchen bench is a mess though
Worth it though; have to go and clean it now I think even though I really can't be bothered.   Then I'm going to do some more spinning or maybe some work on Thomas' sock

Monday, November 21, 2011

Photography expert, not!

I went and got the new camera today as well as the Xbox hard drive and a USB Wireless connector so the boys pc will be able to access the net when we want them to.
It's taken me most of the day to find time to actually set the camera up, but the SD card is now installed, the battery charged and I've taken some test shots with her set to auto.   Mind, I'm not planning on using auto that often, and I did take some on macro too, but first shots were to get an idea of how she compares to my much cheaper point and shoot.
First up I took a photo of the first bobbin of Wisteria, you might remember I took a photo of this earlier with the old camera

and this evening with the new camera in bad lighting
Now, to me the colours look more accurate and it looks sharper; once I've had some time practicing I think this is going to work very well indeed for fibrecraft shots.  I also took one of the white BFL I'm spinning to go with this
You can even see the sheen on this and the one wee bit of black fibre that I hadn't even spotted before I took the shot.

I also went out and took a few of things in the garden, I love taking close-ups of flowers and the old camera always left me slightly disappointed
one of my favourite camelias

white gladioli

unknown iris, love the raindrops on this

black iris, this is one of my favorite irises in our garden
And finally, the first shot of Ray where you can see her real colouring
Chocolate, not black; admittedly she's Dark Ghana, not Milk, but....
At this point with no fiddling with the settings I'm really happy and looking forward to fiddling with said settings a lot more in future.   I've still got to pay it off of course, but at least now it's one more thing off my list of stuff to save for.  Once this is paid off I only have a couple more things I want; a Kindle and of course to replace our shower.

Of old fashioned goings on

Sunday was a day that could easily have shown up in someone's diary from 100 years ago for some parts.   Sure there was the usual computer time for me and Ian (George lost privileges; more on that later), lunch was out of a can and cooked on an electric stove and we went to boot camp, but aside from that...

The day started with a sleep in, which was lovely.  However when I got up George wasn't anywhere to be seen and Thomas had no idea where he was!    He went out to find him, and a wee bit later came back towing a small boy who had 4 plastic bags full of clothing and a sleeping bag.   He'd run away cos we are "bad parents", especially Mummy (me) as the previous night both boys had been trolls and I'd taken away all electronic entertainment privileges.   The only thing missing from the picture here was the stick over his shoulder to tie the bags to.   So, there went any chance of him earning back computer/xbox privileges for the day and instead he embarked on stage 2 of old-fashioned things.  He's been reading his dad's old cub book a lot recently and he decided he wanted a sling-shot.   Luckily we had a downed branch from the peach tree so some trimming and he had the right shaped piece of wood; he then whittled the bark off it and helped his dad attach some elastic and a leather offcut to it using the hot glue gun (this bit's not authentic, but hey, he's 8).
A wee while later and he had something to practice with and Thomas set up a target for him.

I think he's done a fantastic job and he's really proud of himself.   He knows the rules, no aiming at people (there's no ammo in the photo facing me) and no aiming at windows; check what's behind what you're aiming at too.

The afternoon was spent with him practicing and me working while Ian got some computer time after he earned it back.   Once I'd finished work I got the second half of Wisteria spun; now there's just the white to spin up and the plying to go.
It's so pretty, I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished object, well the skein anyway as it'll be a while before it gets knit up.

Today is wet and nasty, got to spend some of it out dropping off work and I'm going to get a new camera; I've decided on the Canon EOS550D.   I was looking at the 1100 in the range, but I can see me outgrowing that fairly quickly so the 550 it is.   Thomas has agreed to me getting it on HP and then I'll pay it off with my spending money.

WIP:  Thomas' sock is 16 rows off the gusset shaping.    Ian's jersey hasn't moved at all, so it's still about 1" into the back and Central Park Hoodie also hasn't moved.   I desperately want to cast on 2 new projects but I'm resisting.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Spinning Saturday

I actually started this spinning last night; this is the roving I started with.  It's a Superwash BFL by Family Roots in the colourway Wisteria if I remember correctly.  I got this as part of the NZ spring fibre swap on Ravelry.
Isn't it lovely?  
I got half of it done at the guild this morning after the AGM.  Still got the other half to go and then I'm going to spin a third single of undyed BFL to make a tabby 3-ply.
I think it should look quite good.  I've decided to spin a bunch of singles and then do a whole lot of plying.

While I was at spinning this coming years committee was elected; I'd put my name forward and I'm now on the Christchurch Guild of Weavers and Spinners.   I don't know what I'll be doing yet, possibly the blog or else maybe the sales table.   In some ways I'd prefer the blog, I'm fairly comfortable with blogging by now and I'm happy to take my camera along to meetings and get a few shots.  Really will have to consider a better camera if I do end up doing that though; the current one really isn't up to the job of good photos.

One bit of bad news, my most worn socks now need repair.  They're my Noro Silk Garden socks, they tend to wear faster than others simply because they're a single and also because they go with everything, I do wear them more often.  I can repair them easily enough, but it won't be in the same colour simply because I don't have a lot of the yarn left over so there's only a couple of colours left in the ball.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Yesterday I finished a wee bit of sewing.  I'd decided I needed something to wear under my full circle skirt that would poof it out a bit and also preserve modesty in Canterbury winds.
I followed a tutorial I found on YouTube which worked well
Now, the pattern you get from this isn't perfect; front and back rise are exactly the same as eachother; but it works well enough and is comfy enough to wear all day.
No, they're not flattering, but they don't need to be.  I'm wearing them today and they're doing a good job under the skirt; no chafing and a slight flare in the way the skirt sits.  This is a good thing.

No sewing today, in fact not much of anything.  Mum came around to show me the yarn she received, the colour is nothing like on the website, but I still think it's a nice colour; she's going to get back to them though as the colour should be at least a wee bit closer to real life.   A bit of Xbox time as well, not really productive.  I will get some more work done on Thomas' socks though at the boys gym session this afternoon, and maybe some spinning and knitting done tonight after I finish working.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

If I ask God

My son just asked me what would happen if he asked God something.   The something was for his parents to stop making him do chores and let him do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it.  I explained to him that God listens to all requests, but only grants those that he considers to be suitable and good for us; that request would not be good for his long term development so God would not be giving it to him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coastal Knits Review

I preordered this wee book based on the pictures I saw on Alana's website; that and the fact that I've knit designs by both ladies before and been quite happy with the end result.
I really do like it too, there are only a small selection of patterns that I don't like and even those it's more a case of they're not my style rather then me actively disliking them.   What I'm going to do is post photo's I've taken of the booklet; no instructions will appear; if you like them you need to buy the book and support the hard work of these very talented designers.   After having done a wee bit of designing myself I have an appreciation as to how much work is involved; and mine were only small accessories!

Bayside Pullover
This is a nice, fairly basic looking jersey which has the advantage that it will go with anything.   It's knit in fingering weight (4-ply for kiwi's) yarn; this version is a linen yarn.  I think this would look great with a skirt as well as the jeans they've styled it with here.  I love basic items if they fit well and this definitely does.

Gnarled Oak Cardigan
I really like this one, a nice shape but still basic enough to go with most things.  With such a lovely design on the yoke you want to use a yarn that doesn't compete so that the pattern does the talking.  One of the best things about this pattern is that it uses DK yarn which is easy to come by in New Zealand; so many are done in worsted or aran weight and it's so hard to find nice yarn that wears well in those weights here.   I have a thing for oak leaves, I have Alana's oak mitts to knit at some point too; I see a matching set here somehow.

Rocky Coast Cardigan
This was one of the patterns released early to those of us who preordered and I've seen some lovely examples.  Somehow it speaks to me of evenings by an open fire with hot toddies and a loving partner.  This despite it being an open front, it just has that easy look to it.  This is knit in worsted weight, so not quite to easy to find here; though there is some here but we call it 10-ply.

Rocky Coast Cardign Front
Wildflower Cardigan
This is one of the patterns that persuaded me I had to have this book.  I love the shape, though I'll have to order yarn to make it as sportweight (5-ply) is even harder to find here than worsted and aran.  It's knit in one of my favourite yarns; Madelinetosh Pashmina.   I've used this yarn before once for a shawl and it's divine!  I can see this pattern in a nice maroon or a violet.  Madelinetosh do wonderful semi-solid yarns which work brilliantly with this sort of pattern.   Just enough detail to be memorable, and I'm pretty sure you could button it all the way down if you wanted.   I do love my cardi's with the top buttons, but full buttons are so much warmer.

Water's Edge Cardigan
I think this is gorgeous, but I can't see it on me.  There's a part of me wants to knit it to see if I'm right, but in general I'm not the frilly sort.  I think I'll wait to see a few more completed to get some idea of how it looks on someone similar to me (the real me, not the one in my head).   It's done in Aran weight yarn so would be a fairly quick knit; problem is I don't have anything suitable in the stash and being on a yarn diet.....
I do think that 3/4 sleeves would work better as the current ones end at the waist detail which makes the proportions look slightly off to me.  I wonder if some of the reason I keep looking at it and wondering is the colour they've used, it's one of my favourites.

Rustling Leaves Beret
I really like this, but I do have a weakness for the beret shape.  This is the other pattern that was released to preorders.  Love the leaf shapes on it and being a fingering weight yarn there's no shortage of suitable yarn in my stash.  I think that beret's are flattering to many face shapes; it's one of the best shapes on my face, the width helps to balance the length of my face.

Panoramic Stole
This is one of the few patterns that I just have no desire to knit.  To me a stole should be lacy, however I do know people who would probably feel happier with this type of knit than a lacy stole.   If I knit it it won't be for me, maybe one of my In-Laws though; the more architectural styling might suit them.  At least it's fingering weight so won't take as long as laceweight would.

Cambrian Cowl
While plain this cowl has the opportunity to show off some spectacular buttons and for that reason I think I'll be knitting it.  It requires a bulky yarn and I think I might just have something suitable for it; some stash diving might be required.  This would look amazing with a nice wool coat.

Branching Out Mitts
This is another one that doesn't speak to me, somehow the colourwork isn't delicate enough for me.  I can see it on a guy though.  It uses a sportweight yarn.  Mitts are incredibly useful though; I barely used my Merino Possum mittens last winter, but I did use my fingerless mitts a lot.

Sand and Sea Shawlette
What can I say, I'm a sucker for a lovely shawlette and this one fits the bill perfectly.  It uses both laceweight and fingering to complete and I think the fingering on the edge will add a nice weight to it.  As you know I'm going a wee bit on the vintage side and I can just see this with a Jane Austen inspired outfit.

In summary, I think this is well worth getting and it fits in nicely with my library.  I am definitely going to knit at least one of the cardigans as soon as I can fit it in the queue; something else might get bumped off.  I think there might be a hat too, I do need another winter hat after all.

All the opinions here are my own, I bought the book, it was not given to me and I have no affiliation with the authors or their publishing companies or associates.

The Seamless Pledge

I'm taking the Seamless Pledge; link is in my sidebar.  Basically what it is is that I will not buy any new clothing aside from underwear until a time that I choose.   I've chosen June 2012 as my timeline.   I'm also allowing myself to accept my annual free jersey from work.   I'm going to try this for the boys and Thomas as well, except for school uniform of course.

I'm already working on it with yesterdays belt; though when I made that I had no idea that this challenge existed.  I'm currently making myself 2 pairs of bloomers to go under my fuller skirts to stop the dreaded chafe I hope.   I love wearing skirts in summer, but I hate it when you sweat and then things get rather uncomfortable.   I can then make myself another skirt before diving into the stash for the next thing (some t-shirts for the boys and myself).  This works in well with my yarn diet and fabric diets; I'm allowing myself probably one yarn purchase soon as I have a credit at The Loopy Ewe (might have mentioned this before) and I'm allowed haberdashery if I have nothing suitable in that stash.   Not sure if this applies to quilting fabric yet; it should, but if I'm going to order a couple of things from a quilting shop (rulers), then surely it makes sense to add some fabric; maybe some basic Kona solids.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fabric becomes....

This morning I got ready to go for my next C25K run having last night worked out the apps I needed to use on my cellphone, only to find there was nowhere to safely carry my cellphone in my workout gear!
No run as a result, but a few hours work with interruptions and this:
design sketch

Japanese print, plain quilting cotton, floral print and cotton batting
has now become this:
belt with pouch attachment

being worn.
It's not quite perfect; doesn't tend to be when you wing it, but it will do the job quite nicely and I can use it as a prototype.   In future I'd make the belt a little stiffer; so some interfacing and more quilting stitching.   The pouch needs a little wider binding so I can double fold it; this is single fold, but it works.   I can go running tomorrow with this installed (after Ian's dental appointment) with no worries about dropping my phone or getting it sweaty.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An at-home weekend

well, mostly at home.  Friday was a public holiday here and while most people were off to the agricultural show I went to Mum's place to do some knitting with her.  I also reminded her to spend her voucher for some yarn at  Normally she knits for the boys, but I think I've persuaded her to knit for herself.  This is a good thing, I found a pattern that I have in my magazine stash that she likes for DK yarn and I'll give her a copy of it; luckily it's not one I have in my queue so I won't breach copyright seeing as I'll never knit it.  She's actually got 2 less jerseys now as a result of my visit.  I left with 2 of hers that she's not been wearing as the shape wasn't right.   I'm longer in the body than she is and also have a little more in the chest department so these particular jerseys suit me quite well.  The surprising thing is that they fit as she's also considerably smaller in the girth than I am (she's not fond of sweets like me).

While there I finished Thomas' first sock and started on the second one; got to get him to try it on but it should be fine.  Once it's tried on I'll get a photo and also cut the yarn.  I also got one pattern repeat done on my Central Park Hoodie's back ribbing.

Today we got mail again so a pair of shoes arrived from the NZ Sale website; these are Stegmann sandals with leather upper and lining and although they're a trifle snug in these socks I'm pretty sure in my usual 4-ply (fingering) socks they'll be fine.  I much prefer leather for my shoes.
I really like them and the heel isn't too high either which is good.  The styling is classic too so will fit in with my vintage aesthetic.   Sure I still have a lot of clothes that are most definitely not vintage (workout gear springs to mind here), but I am working on it.

In other news today I've been spinning more of the alpaca/mohair/merino and it's yummy.  Thomas expressed a desire for it to be his, until he found out it's unsuitable for socks.   Might make it into a cowl I think; then if he wants it he can wear it on the motorbike to keep his neck warm; no lace though; that wouldn't go down well at all.
Of course it's only 1/3 done; the other half of the roving needs to be spun yet and then the plying which will then give us a 2-ply yarn.   It won't be suitable for cables, but maybe something with geometric lace might be sufficiently ok for a man.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vintage is coming back

Have you noticed that a lot of people are going back to the old ways?  Saving things and repairing them rather than throwing them out; growing food in the back yard or allotments; wearing clothing that is modelled after vintage eras? 
Personally I love the styles of the 40's or 50's; not all of them, but I love the fit and feminine look.   Unfortunately my figure is not currently suited to many of them which is part of the reason why I'm trying to do more exercise so I can wear them.   I'm bored with jeans and sweats; I want a little glamour in my wardrobe.
I'm also enjoying watching movies based in the past.   I really want to see The Artist
and also W.E.
in both cases partly to see the costumes; and also partly for the stories in the movies.  I've been watching some of my own recently too; BBC's Pride and Prejudice and Gosford Park.   Set in very different time periods, but still both very enjoyable to watch for the story and for the costumes.   There's a part of me would love to dress like Elizabeth Bennett; but I'm not really sure that I'm up for the stares such an outfit would attract.  Not to mention finding fabric that would be just right; the summer dresses have to be a very light cotton voile or muslin; and the winter ones silk probably.   I think I might have to make something, they do after all have the advantage that if your waistline goes up and down a bit the dress should still fit!  That's important after the amount of work you'd put into such a creation.  I think a summer dress for a start; now where's my cotton fabric?

Like many other people we're trying to be a bit more clever in our use of stuff; not throwing out veges cos they've gone bad; instead trying to use them before they reach that point.   We have a vege patch, though keeping it watered this summer will be interesting with the restrictions in Christchurch.   I'm sewing and knitting of course; trying to do a bit more baking instead of buying biscuits; didn't do so well on that today though.  Spinning my own yarn fits in with this aesthetic as does making my own tooth powder instead of toothpaste (persuading the family to use it as well isn't working though).     We're keeping the carpet till it rips; we're already down to the backing in several areas.  Passing things on instead of throwing them out; our neighbours have recently received DVD's, books, clothes and a lawnmower catcher from us rather than throwing them out.  The catcher had been offered to my brother but he turned it down.  There are still some things you have to get new; the computer is one, when I get a camera it will be too; shoes are another.  I really don't believe in second-hand shoes.   Funny though, once upon a time I was all about the new, now I'm looking at old stuff and seeing potential.

WIP knitting:  T's first sock is about 10 rows off completion.  My Central Park Hoodie has a long way to go and my next cast-on will be a baby jacket for a friend using some of my handspun.

WIP Sewing:  Nothing cut out at the moment, though fabric is prepped for a tiered skirt for me, some new t-shirts for me and a couple of t-shirts for the boys.

WIP Quilting:  Just the one, and it will probably be a bit before progress on it; it's the king sized quilt for our bed using Arnold's Attic Jelly rolls; about 1/3 of the way through the blocks for it.  If I can get T's socks done, the baby stuff knit and some of the summer sewing done then I'll get back to this; would be nice to have it for next winter on our bed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Delivery Days

Yesterday and today both had things arriving.

Yesterday was some Samoyd fur to spin; known as Cheingora in spinning circles I believe.  This is the dog's clippings for all of his life and was offered free to Anne Field who didn't need it and asked at the guild; funnily enough I put my hand up and she gave me the owner's email address.  He'd put it on Trademe, but said if it didn't sell I could have it; yesterday it arrived due to not selling.  The fur at the top feels a little coarser than I expected, but then again that would be his latest trim; so might well be stronger than the rest.  This weekend I'll go through it to check what the younger fur is like and also to check to make sure there's no moths in there.  If there are then it'll go through the freeze and thaw cycle a few times before I decide what to do with it.  Here's a glimpse of it:
This is a full rubbish bag of fibre so it'll take a wee bit to get through.

Today I found a box outside from Little Bird.  I entered a competition through Good Magazine and won a box full of organic raw food goodies.  There's grawnola, breakfast cereals and macaroons.   Some I probably won't like with nuts in, but the rest of the family will be happy enough with those. 
I had one of the cereals for breakfast this morning; picked out most of the almonds (not all) and then added my yoghurt to it; very nice indeed!   It was a buckwheat based cereal with goji berries, seeds and nuts; might have to investigate costings on this one.
Also today George's birthday present arrived; it was left outside the front door and he was in such a snit this morning when he left that he never even noticed it!   This is a good thing, because it was pretty obvious what it was the way it was wrapped; he's getting a skateboard.

In knitting news, I've almost finished Thomas' first sock of the pair; it's looking really good and I've got about 14 rows to go I think
He tried it on last night and really liked it, but wanted it longer (that was about 10 rows back); he'd like knee-high; but there's not enough yarn; so he's getting longer than the last pair, but not that long.

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