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Monday, May 30, 2011

Circus Quirkus

Last week while Thomas was in Wellington I got an email from school asking if we'd be interested in free tickets to go to the circus on Saturday.   I said yes please as I thought it would be a nice family thing to do seeing as Daddy had been away all weekend.
It was on at 11am on Saturday morning which gave us time to go in and order our new washing machine
This is an 8kg Bosch front loading machine that spins 1600rpm (cardboard towels here we come!).  So when it arrives I should have a reliable spin, as well as a nice sized machine to replace our earthquake damaged machine.
After that was sorted we headed off to the circus.  It had been put on by Rotary, so we weren't sure what to expect; however if we'd have had to pay we would not have been disappointed.   It was a marvellous show, a little clowning, but mostly acrobatics.  Ian loved the Zim Boyz and now has a poster on his wall of them to prove it.  Some of the stuff they do like standing on eachothers shoulders without holding on Ian also does; he doesn't back flip off yet though.   There was tightrope walking, some amazing hula hoop displays (I can't keep one up, she had about 8 at one point!), the hoop thing in the air a bit like a trapeze.  Also a quick-change show, that wasn't quite as interesting for the boys.  In short a wonderful time out and not regretted at all.   The show was called Circus Quirkus.
My photo's aren't great, I didn't use the flash (not that a flash would have helped).   Unfortunately I think I was the only one who didn't use it despite a specific request at the beginning for no flash photography!

That night my parents came over to babysit the boys while we headed out to a 75th dinner for Thomas' Dad (Neil).   We went to the Gardens Restaurant in Marshands Rd.  It's a buffet which normally I dont' think much of, but in this case was really nice.   I would happily go back I think.  The most divine sticky date pud was the high point for me.

Afterwards Thomas and I drove back towards home, but stopped off for a wee walk and look at the cordons on Manchester and Colombo in the dark.   We got stopped by a police car on the way to check if I'd been drinking, luckily I hadn't been so that was fine.
I took a few photo's, once again no flash so some don't show much; but it gives you an idea of the state of some of our buildings
 An old Hotel on Manchester St, the top of the parapet is gone on the left and cracking down the front too.

 This is the Colombo St overbridge on Moorhouse.  I've got no intention of ever driving over this again!  You could hear the reverberations through the steel support structures they've got bracing this pillar every time someone drove over it; not a nice sound.
Next down is on Manchester St, this is what remains of a wee block of shops that included Darby Brothers Menswear; this is never going to open again in this building.

Colombo St at the cordon; you could hear thumping noises in the building on the left; we think a broken water main as there was a lot of water being directed out of the area; either that or there was someone doing something nefarious in the dark, but no torchlight or anything so we're pretty sure it was water.   We could also see the leaning hotel; no way I could get a photo of that in the dark without a telephoto lens (which would need a DSLR) and a tripod.  My point and shoot isn't up the job at all.

One thing I'm really proud of this weekend though, I finished my Spring Garden Tee!   I've tried it on and it looks good, but that was pre-blocking.   I'll post a photo of it worn post-blocking once it's dry.  Here it is drying though:
It's not quite as bright as the photo suggests, to give you some idea of how far off it is the background should be a darkish grey.   I just couldn't get the colour values to work though.   Really happy with it.

I've also got back onto George's mittens; past the top of  the skull and crossbones, thumb is attached and doing decreases now.  Might even get that finished tomorrow while I'm at my course, which will leave just one mitten to make.  It's looking really good, and my idea of knitting the thumb separately and attaching it seems to be working well on a finger-up mitten.  Much better than the provisional cast-on option did for colourwork.  I'll post a photo of it once it's finished; maybe even on a hand!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A wet and cold day

Today I had heaps planned.  I was going to the area day for our spinning and weaving guild; which I did.  Unfortunately I took the wrong turn-off so it took longer than normal to get out to Oxford.  When I got there it was pissing down with rain and the place was packed!  I don't do well in crowds so I forgot to take a photo.  I did say hi to a few friends from the guild (Joanne, Jan, Paula), but not many others; I got 2 lots of fibre.   1 of Merino from one of my favourite dyers (Heavenly Wools) and also some from Southern Alpacas.  I'll take photos later, but there's no natural light atm.
The one from Heavenly wools was a colourway called Dilly Dally and is a purple and green fibre; it was stuff in the specials bin, short bits etc but this is not a problem for me.
The one from Southern Alpacas is a black alpaca fibre mixed with plum and blue silk; I've got some already but wanted some more.

I'm afraid once I'd bought them I scarpered.  I really hate crowds!   Came home the right way, got some milk and a meat pie for lunch and then cleaned out the fridge.  You don't want to know some of the "best before" dates in there; expired and not by months!   I've still got to actually clean the fridge, but at least the food in there is all ok now.   Also put a few books in the recycling bin, stuff that we've never looked at and probably never would; including computer game books that are windows 95.

A bit more knitting, but I've got to go and get the boys soon; then it's going to be a quiet afternoon in the living area in front of this lovely thing.  I lit it with the "kindling" Thomas had left for me but had to get more wood in as he'd forgotten to do that.

I've also got quotes for the washing machine I want, looks like I'll get it for $2288 plus delivery and extra warranty (I know you're not supposed to need it, but the CGA costs more in time and stress than they charge for the warranty, believe me, I've been there).  GE have increased our limit so I can get it, just got to talk to Thomas first.   The above price is through Harvey Norman, an extra $60 for delivery and will be 12 months interest free; enough time for even EQC to get their A into G.   Kitchen Things will do it for $2299 including delivery with 6 months interest free, which should also be enough time.   I can live with the oven the way it is, but not the washing machine.
Need to find out how much K'T will charge for the extra warranty before making decisions though.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A week off, or, what can be accomplished when not working.

Admittedly I'm still spending too much time on Mafia Wars and Frontierville, but since I finished the last lot of work I've been very busy.

Saturday morning the boys and I did gardening; the bed in front of the lounge is now all done except where the carrots are.   As a reward they got the Wii for the afternoon which went down well.

On Sunday the boys and I baked; well, mostly me, but they were quite happy to help eat.  I made chocolate muffins; put enough in the freezer for school lunches this week and we ate the rest.   Most of the rest of Sunday the boys got to vege out on the Xbox, partly cos Ian's really tired after his throwing up bug the previous Monday.  He's much bouncier now.

Monday was my first day with the boys at school and Thomas in Wellington.  I took a couple of photos:
The pile of fabric I planned to cut out, all for me.  I actually got most of it done.  One lot I decided wasn't me and there's another that I still have to decide on a pattern for, but aside from that it's done.  4 winter t-shirts, 1 summer t-shirt and a pair of cords.  Sewing will come in the next week or so.

 The view through our front door, needs some work as you can see.
 Our peach trees, all the leaves are gone now which means that it's much easier to see just how far out the cats get!  They're not up there on this photo, but they don't stick to the thicker branches; they're right out near the edge.  I swear they're really squirrels.
And finally, this arrived on Monday.   I won it a wee while back from Wiley Crafts, but the first package went missing so had to be resent.  This copy is not autographed, but they will be sending a signed one and another book to make up for the wait.  The yarn that came with it is enough to make the Pump Jockey jacket in the largest size.  Unfortunately Thomas wouldn't wear it in this colour, so I'll probably use it either for Ian or me; probably Ian as green is his favourite colour.  The yarn feels nice, springy and resiliant, I like that in a jersey type yarn.

I also did some more knitting on my Spring Garden Tee, still working on it now but there's only about 2.5" plus border to go
I've tried it on and I think it's going to look good.  I've had to make more increases, so changed from every 5th row to every 3rd row to take it up to the 2nd to last size for the hip. 

After school we baked; only pikelets, but they all got eaten. 

Tuesday:  More cutting out, more knitting and more pikelets!  Both boys really like pikelets.  It did mean Ian wasn't really hungry when Emma turned up for his food tests, but he quite happily participated anyway and kissed his bits of orange.  Emma and I shared the unkissed bits when he was done.   Hopefully by the end of this study Ian will have a wider range of foods he'll eat.

Wednesday:  The final lot of cutting out and I decided to add some trim to the cords.  They're going to have a contrast pocket lining and a stripe of the same fabric down the outside pockets too; the main fabric is fawn coloured and the contrast is a bit of black kiwiana fabric which has kiwi's on it as well as pohutakawa and NZ.  Works really well with it and it'll make the trousers stand out.

More knitting of course and have determined that Ian wants mittens too.  He'll get his after George's are finished.  Ian wants green and orange mittens so I'll have to dye some orange I think.  His will be colourwork too, but no special pattern as that would detract from George's special mittens.
Here's George's so far:

Looking good so far, though the colour is inaccurate.  The cream isn't that buttery looking.
Baked again today too.  We picked some of our apples on the weekend, they're bruised in some cases, a bit birdied and also have codlin moth so I grated them and made a spiced apple cake.  My oven is definitely dodgy; I've made this before and it's been perfect, but in order to get the inside cooked the outside burned a little.  It's still yummy though!

Photo's a little blurry as Ian took it.

On the subject of the oven, I rang EQC this morning as payment still not through.  Last time I rang 3 weeks ago I was told ours was approved for payment, had been for 3 weeks already and they get paid out in 6 weeks max, or in other words it should have been paid out by today.   No money today, so rang them.  No, it's not approved yet, no they don't know when it will be either.  So I asked to be transferred to a supervisor as I'd had enough.  I got cut off.  Rang back and had to sit in their queue.  Finally got through and then to a supervisor who listened very nicely to my complaints (I was perfectly polite if a little upset) and said she would escalate it but still couldn't give me a time frame.  They'll ring me when it's approved and I'm to ring back in 2 weeks if haven't heard anything to get an update.  Unfortunately though we still have to wait.   I can cope with this for the oven, we're learning it's new ways and just not leaving it alone.  The washing machine isn't spinning properly any more, and it's getting worse.  I think we're just going to have to replace it and hope  they pay out reasonably quickly. 
After it's paid out we have to hold onto the big items for 6 months after that date; don't know where the heck we'll store them; cant' keep the car out for 6 months and the garage is really the only place sufficiently weatherproof.  Might have to put them on the covered deck and put tarps around them for extra protection.
I'm calm now, but this morning I was really pissed off with EQC, partly due to the delays, but more because of the complete misinformation I was given last time.

Tomorrow: I'm planning on paying a visit to Oxford for the area open day; they're holding it for Christchurch.  I don't have much money, but I'll take the camera and hopefully I'll remember to take some photos.  Will need to come home in time to get the boys from school, and also to drop into the supermarket as we're out of most things atm.   Either that or we'll be buying dinner.  I think groceries will be on Saturday this time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interweave Knits Summer 2011 and a decision

I'll put the decision first I think.   For the last wee while I've been trying to work out what washing machine and oven we'll get when EQC get their A into G and pay our contents claim.  I've been looking at either a Fisher and Paykel stove or a Parmco one; for the washing machine it's been between another Bosch or an Asko.
Still to discuss it with Thomas, but at this point there's still no money and as I normally use both appliances a lot more than he does I think he'll be ok with it.
Oven:  going with Fisher and Paykel, has a bigger oven space and storage drawer at the bottom, more importantly the controls are at the back, so harder for the boys to get to (I don't want them getting to them).  The Parmco has a small storage drawer which would be problematic and the controls are above the oven door so too easy for boys to fiddle with and turn on without us noticing.

Washing Machine:  Got to be Bosch as Asko don't do an 8kg machine and after getting my wee 7kg machine (which is already having issues) to wash 2 duvets this morning I realise I need the extra space to fit these things in.  Could probably get by with 1 wash a day with the bigger machine too, which we can't with the current one.

And now onto what you've been waiting for:
Interweave Knits
First impression on this one is quite favourable.  Although I think their model choices for a couple of the outfits weren't ideal it's still nice to see models who are real sizes.   Just a pity the wrap style went on the normal sized model who doesn't actually suit it.  There's a lot of nice things in here; only one that I just simply don't get.  Most could easily be changed to suit my preferences.

Custom Pictorial Lace Motifs:  
I think they must have been reading my mind on this one.  I'd been thinking that it must be possible to design your own lace inspired by common shapes and it turns out I'm right!   I'll be referring to this later I think, though not for elephants as it'll be something for me.  I love the swatch experiments she did; that'll be really handy and save me some work.

Coral Cardigan:
This is the one where I think they chose the wrong model; I think the sleeve length is probably not helping either as it ends on her widest spot which is visually not a good thing.  It looks really good on the picture where she has her arm bent so the sleeve ends higher; I think either an above elbow sleeve or a long sleeve without the puff would work well.  I'd also make it longer in the body I think.  Other than that one judgement lapse (sleeve length), I think it is a rather nice wrap style cardigan and I'd consider knitting it.

Greenhouse Tank:
I'd definitely knit this, very pretty, but I'd do it with a little negative ease rather than the 2" positive ease they've gone for.   Positive ease would make it work well for someone who's pregnant, but if you're not it makes you look like you're trying to hide a pregnancy.   Love the wee buttons down the side and the lace would make it interesting to knit.   From someone who's currently working through a lot of knitting in the round with nothing else, lace looks really good!

Adriatic Cardigan:
Love this, very 50's which I like.  A little glamour, some lace and plenty of fitting.  With the V-neck you can wear anything under it too which is good.  I think I might want to slightly narrow the neck width as I hate feeling like things are trying to escape my shoulders, but aside from that; eminently knittable and wearable.

Torch Lily Tee:
This is another I adore.   Love the neckline shape, it fits well and has plenty of interest in the lace panels on the front.  I also like the short sleeves; much as I love sleeveless it no longer really works well my figure.  I want one, if it had come out before I started my current project I might well have made this instead.   Too late now, but it's going in the queue.

Cobblestone Vest: 
To me this looks a little messy.   The front opening is too low, don't really like the tie either.   It doesn't fit that well at the back either which doesn't help.   Maybe for some slim young thing?

Camp Smock:
This is very sweet; wouldn't work on me unfortunately without some adjustment; I'm a bit too busty.  This would work really well on anyone with a B cup or less I think.  Otherwise you'll need to make the empire top a little longer and maybe incorporate some shaping too.  Aside from that though it's a nice simple pattern that looks gorgeous on the model.   I almost regret my bust; but it works well for so many other patterns.

Lace and Cable Scarflette:
Hmm, I'm not a big scarf person but this is nice in some ways, love the cable, however if I knit it there won't be trim on one long edge.   I like fringing on the 2 short edges, but the long edge is making my neck itch and I"m not even wearing it!

Hourglass Lace Socks:
You all know I'm a sucker for socks and these are no exception.  Love the lacy cable look and the heel is really cute too.   Interesting to knit I'd imagine too.

Mission Cardigan:
Remember at the beginning I said there was one outfit I just didn't get?   This is it; it's so much open-work you've got to wonder why you'd bother wearing it.  I like the basic shape, but it's so much mesh that it looks like someone took their coarse fishnets and decided to sew them into a cardigan.

Banstead Pullover:
This is actually taken from an Interweave Press book (Knitting Plus: Mastering Fit + Plus-Size Style + 15 Projects ).  It starts at size 42 which is slightly too big for me, but I have to say the pattern is gorgeous and if it came in my size I'd be queueing it.   Hopefully this winter doesn't get me to that size (it's only a small step).   Love the neckline, which would be practical for summer and it displays her assets in a flattering manner.   It's also nice to see a true "plus size" model.  Still can't believe that size 12 Australian is considered "plus" in modelling circles; that's ridiculous.  I guess going by that I'd be an Elephantine model if I modelled.

Dockside Cardigan:
I really like this, though I don't know if it would work on me being so very curvy in front.  I tend to prefer more tailored lines.  Looks wonderful from the side; almost Victorian.  I could just see it over a crinoline skirt.

Swirl Skirt:
I rather like this too, not the colours but the shape of it.  I've always wanted to try knitting a skirt; not sure if this is the one yet or not, but it's joining the list of possibles.  I really like the lines of colour swirling around it and the slight flare at the bottom.   I could see it in a darker colour with bright lines.

Cumulus Tee:
I really like this, nice shape, a little skin flirtation at neckline and sleeve edge, but still modest enough for those of us who no longer have the perfect figure.  This is going in the queue as well.

Cat's Eye Tam:
Colourwork, what more can I say?   I love that this also is a slouchy tam; slouch suits me and although they are saying it's for summer I think it would work well for winter too.  A great way to use up little bits of leftover fingering yarn too, the colourwork band is fairly narrow so wouldn't need a lot of yarn.  No reason why you couldn't use a different colour from the main hat for the pattern in the middle either.  Queued!

Bistro Lace Stole:
Very pretty, but reminds me of crochet; I think if I was making something like this I'd go crochet.  However the likelihood is I wouldn't make it; it's too angular for me, not lacy enough for a shawl.

Lion Oh! Sweater:
Very cute, my boys are too big for this sort of thing now unfortunately.  I think most small boys and even some small girls would love it.

Amelia Hoodie:
Love this as it is.  Might consider making it slightly longer, but like the shape of the back and the hood sits nicely too.  Wee cap sleeves are also nice.  I think this is a younger style, but I'm not that old yet am I?

Al Fresco Camisole:
This is very pretty too, not suitable for me unfortunately; but would look fantastic on people with a slightly firmer shape.   Maybe later, still working on that

Pebble and Reed Tunic:
Another with the sleeves at the wrong length, I like the rest of it though.  Nice lace and love the neckline.

Baby Elephant Vest:
Nice wee vest for a youngster, would be easy to change the lace pattern too so this is customisable.

Nantucket Vest:
A circular vest, this one in ribbon yarn.  It's pretty, but probably won't suit me.  I don't much like the back though, looks like a hessian sack.

Children, the wakeup call

This is a picture free post for the first bit; you really don't want to see it.

Just had a most unwelcome wake up call, a little person snuck into bed with us and when I asked him why he said "Mummy I threw up".   So he went into the shower, while I went into the bedroom and then got Dh up to help.   It was an "oh boy!" upchuck.   I'll be up for a bit longer while the rinse cycle deals with the worst affected bits, then I can put some of the other bits in for a full wash.   2 duvets need washing, from now on whether he likes it or not he's having covers on his duvets.  He also managed to get his pillow despite the pillow protector.   He thinks he's done throwing up now (I really hope he's right) and is back to bed with the spare blankets.

No school tomorrow and I'll have to strip George's bed too as he dripped on that on the way down; I've sponged it off as G was fully asleep.

Later today I might post my Interweave Knits review, right atm though I'm waiting for the washing machine and to see if there's any further washing required.   I don't think there'll be much sleep tonight so I may even wait another day before doing the IK post as I'm not sure how coherent I'll be later today.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A mouse in the house!

Not any more, but last night Star was paying a whole heap of attention to the hall cupboard; when after an hour she was still there I figured it had to be more than just a toy.   I closed all the doors into the hall and then pulled out the various boxes in the bottom of the hall cupboard; sure enough a wee mouse made his appearance.
Star caught him, but wouldn't then come out of the cupboard.  I'm ok with her having a mouse, but outside is best so I kept trying to get her out and of course she dropped it!   Streaky mouse across the hall, under the bookcase, sigh.
I had to get an old coathanger and bang it around under there (after closing the cupboard door) until he streaked out again.   Took a couple of tries, but I managed to catch him by the tail; took him in to show to Thomas and his gaming buddies before taking a very frightened but very active mouse out to the compost heap.   If I see him again it'll be death, but as I figure Star probably brought him inside in the first place he deserved a second chance.
I did have a very confused kitten for an hour or so afterwards though!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Wonderful weekend

Catherine picked me up on Friday for us to pop out to our little weekend retreat; lucky  there were only the two of us as the car was completely full with all of our stuff!  I took my wheel, more fibre than I needed and some knitting as well.   The usual sleeping bag, pillow and blankets, a heater as there were none in the bunkrooms and we needed it, some wood for the fire as well as paper, kindling etc.

We stopped off in Papanui on the way to drop into Fabric Vision as Catherine needed some supplies for the weekend; she decided to make do with the zip she had shortly after seeing the pricing on the only one that was the correct length; $33!   As it turned out that was a good decision as that zip would have been too long.
I bought nothing, I did offer second opinions on a couple of things though and we found out that they're not reopening their Bath St shop as they believe there isn't sufficient people in town even once it's been reopened.  I'm devastated!  This means the only fabric shop over this side of town that isn't primarily a quilting shop is Spotlight; horrors!  I did suggest they could look at opening over my way as there are lots of us in this area and it's closer for Catherine too.  Lets hope I don't need any more fabric or notions till someone does open over this side of town.

After that we headed off to Rangiora to look at a quilting shop there; it's at 9 High St and is in the same complex as their local Warehouse store.  Can't remember the name of the shop, but I may have bought a book on using jelly rolls there, good price and a good book; I have a jelly roll to use once the current 3 are turned into my king sized quilt and there's some good ideas in this book.   They had lovely fabric too, but I didn't need any then.

Next stop of course was Birch Hill Camp which is a smaller camp run by the Boys Brigade.  3 bunk rooms, a climbing castle and the main hall with kitchen and toilets.   There were about 15 of us and it worked out well, we wouldn't have wanted any more people though, or any less room.   Nice gas showers though.

We all set up and there were a range of crafts practiced.   Many doing sewing of clothing for their children, a couple doing things for themselves including Catherine who did a really good job on a jacket despite instructions that were a little misleading.   Great welt pockets!   Some embroidery by Joanne, beautiful work as usual, Bec dropped in and did some needlefelting between looking after her wee man who's just starting to try and walk, some doing quilting and of course my knitting and spinning.  Joanne and I also helped a learner knitter.  Joanne helped with the knitting and I taught how to sew up the wee baby jacket.  Unfortunately I can't remember the lady's name, but for a first project I was amazed at how good it was; even tension and no dropped stitches!

Here's the main hall, as you can see lots of sewing machines, all going flat tack and lots of talking.  We also had one very well behaved wee girl.  Emily is I think almost 7 and kept herself busy without getting in the way or annoying anyone.  She enjoyed watching the spinning and worked out how the wheel worked really well too without any real help from me; a very intelligent and charming wee lass; a credit to her parents and herself.

Here's Joanne working on her embroidery, it's a birth sampler for her eldest daughter which has been on hold for a wee while due to other commitments (namely her 3 children), she almost finished it; just short a wee bit of thread I think at the end so should be done really soon.   It's a classic sampler, none of the kitsch frollicing animals or anything so the children won't be trying to hide it when their friends come over.

The lovely quilt that Summer was working on, the top is all sewn together, so just got the backing and binding to go; any small boy would love that quilt.

This is not my spinning, Joanne brought her wheel (Fiona) along for Tanya to spin on.  Tanya was flying in so couldn't really bring her wheel.  She spun 100g of Merino from Heavenly Wools in the colourway "Shades of Ink".  It turned out beautifully, like so many other things this weekend.

I was busy spinning too, don't I look the part?
I was spinning up a scrappy yarn, got half of it completed including plying
And the other half is all on the bobbin, just has to be plied
Hopefully I'll get that finished later this week, then washed and I can work out what to make with it.  It's not all one weight as I finished off some lace singles that had been sitting on the bobbin and incorporated them into the yarn.

I also got some more knitting done on my Citron, almost up to the end of the 5th set of repeats; if I was doing a small shawl this is where I'd move onto the ruffle.  I am, however doing a much bigger one so I'll be doing at least 2 more sets of repeats plus ruffle.   Got to the sleeve increases for my top, but needed to evenly increase 17 stitches and I didn't have the right headspace for that, so it went on hold; about to use an app to work that out so I can keep going.  Loving the fabric that is being created though.

This week then I need to:
finish plying
make George's pj's
do more work on the spring garden tee
clean the bathroom and kitchen seeing as T wasn't feeling up to it this weekend.

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