Friday, February 20, 2009

Missing in Action

I'll be taking a little blog break for a couple of weeks.

Moving House

By my calculations in 25months we will have lived in 5 different houses - moving house 4 times (including to the other end of the country and back again). I can't decide if that means we are part-gypsy or just plain mad.

As you can imagine stress levels are at an all time high and knitting output is at an all time low (actually, pretty much non existent).

I'll be back once we are settled in our new house

Happy Knitting xx

ETA - we're only moving one suburb over but to a house that is a lot more child friendly (huge back yard and 2 sets of gates before the road). Hopefully it will also be a little warmer that this one come winter xx

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The best kind of mail is...

Yarny mail of course!

Yesterday I received my themed yarn swap package. (The one I sent is here). My perfectly themed and insanely cool yarn swap package!!

My theme was "Outside Over There" and my very clever yarn fairy managed to put together a package that incorporates both my favourite movie (Labyrinth) and our favourite children's author Maurice Sendak.

My gift was the book 'Outside Over There' which is by Sendak and is also the basis for the movie Labyrinth (you learn something every day!). We already have Where the Wild Things Are and The Night Kitchen (both read a gazillion times and loved by us all) so this is the perfect addition to our library!

The paperwork was the words to "Magic Dance" by David Bowie (youtube link) from the Labyrinth movie... (You remind me of the babe...what babe? babe with the power...what power? power of voodoo...who do? you what? remind me of the babe).

My pattern was the Star Crossed beret (Ravelry download)- which is perfectly 'me' and already way up there on my list for me this autumn

And the yarn. Oh the yarn....

Outside over there


My yarn fairy chose a soft thick/thin spun merino yarn which is deliciously soft and just gorgeous. The unusual texture of the yarn ties in with the quirky nature of Sendak's writing and she dyed it colours from the book - amplifying them , such is my preference for deep and bright colours. You will see what I mean with this pic
Yarn Swap V3

I TOTALLY (and then some) loved the package. I feel really special that the theme was so suited to me and someone took the time to work out something that would be tailored just to me! Love Love Love. Thank you so much yarn fairy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Natural Knits for Babies and Toddlers

Natural Knits for Babies and Toddlers by Tina Barrett.


Our library is quite good at regularly updating the knitting books. Just about every time I go in I spot something new. Last visit saw me come home with this new book by Tina Barrett (Amazon link here) which I thought I'd share for today's morning report.

First impression was a good one. There are some *seriously* cute patterns in this book. The styling is attractive and appealing and there is a good range of knitting techniques. Nothing looked seriously difficult but there were a couple of cable and lace patterns for those wanting to branch out a little bit. What really caught my eye was a really nice emphasis on finishing and the little details that make the pieces stand out as something special.

As the title suggests the patterns are written for natural fibres - yes wool and cotton but also projects made in hemp, soy, corn, silk and bamboo. The Earth Mama's will love this book - as well as being all about natural fibres, the book features not only the usual baby blankets, jeresys and hats- there are also patterns for nursing pads and nappy liners! I think it's great to see some branching out of traditional baby knitting patterns.

There were a couple of things I thought were a little 'off ' (like a cabled jumper in bright stripey wool) but 90% of the patterns were very "knittable" to my mind. A nice range of styles for boys and girls and some very cute baby accessories which would make lovely gifts.

My picks?
Possibly swayed by the adorable modelling and styling but this alpaca cardy with matching beret went straight to the top of my winter wish list for M1. I think perhaps the ruffle hem was the clincher there.

And this

A swing dress and matching leggings. The pattern was written for hemp but I'm doing it in bamboo/cotton. I've cast on for the 1-2y but with the sudden autumny change we're having at the moment I'm wondering if perhaps I do the 2-3y size instead ready for next summer. Sigh.

Any new knitting books caught your eye lately?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lantern Festival

Last night M6 and I went to the Lantern Festival to join in the celebrations marking the end of Chinese New Year.


2009 is the Chinese Year of the Ox - "The Ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work"


Despite the very un-summer like temperature we had a lovely time wandering around the park admiring the amazing lanterns. Some were true works of art. It was quite magical to watch the park light up as the evening darkened and the real beauty of the lanterns became obvious.

lantern festival1

We also got to see the firecracker display (to ward off evil spirits) and watch some traditional dance, puppet and music performances - a wonderful way to spend the evening!


This lantern was my favourite. Dragons represent auspcious power and it seems almost disrespectful to call it 'just' a lantern, it was enormous and mighty!

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

According to this, which I sincerely hope is accurate .....Happy New Year!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FO: White Clouds

When I said 09 was the year for knitting for me, me and me, I really was serious!


This year I'd really like to have a go designing something 'proper' - my first baby step to that lofty goal is to modify (and meld ) existing patterns and play around with different design elements. This is also proving to be a really great exercise in working out what shapes and styles and colours work best for me (something I've never felt I was really completely confident in).

P2110477white2 latest FO is part Cloud Bolero and part 'made up' - I used the pattern for casting on and copied the yo increasing, the lace pattern is pretty much the same although I did my own maths to work out how many to cast on under the sleeves. I made lots of notes on my Ravelry project page if you're interested in the specifics - although there are a few tiny things I would change if I were to make this again it turned out pretty much how I had planned - as a 'mix it up' kind of exercise it was quite successful! Obviously I modelled this on the Sopheme top I made my neice.


I'm still working out exactly how and where to close it, for now I'm using an antique brooch which is doing a fine job. One day I might add a button or tie. And since white would have to be an almost ridiculous colour choice for a mother with 3 young children I may also (one day....maybe) get around to dyeing it.


For all of you who like to know all the whats and hows - Cloud bolero by Ysolda Teague, modified by me, knit on 8mm Knit Picks interchangeables. The yarn is Milford Knitting Cotton 12ply and I used approximately 300g. The yarn was a gift and looks pretty vintagesque, I thought it was a bit thick for clothing initally but it actually knit up quite soft and I may remedy the colour one day :D

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Yarn Swap the Third

So, apparently we are all suckers for a good themed yarn swap and round 3 is currently underway. Thanks to Kelly and Rach for being brave enough to organise yet another round!!

You might remember the earlier swaps I blogged about here and here and here!

The idea is to pick a theme (anything you like!), then put together a swap package that includes some hand dyed yarn, a small gift, a pattern suggestion (to match the yarn and the theme) and a piece of 'paperwork'.

Here is the one I sent for this round:


The Yarn
yarnswapprincess pink1

Colourway "Princess Pink" - 200g of Jet (Alpaca/Wool)
Dyed using Wiltons Terracotta Pink

I LOVE how this turned out and am seriously going to try and replicate some more so I can keep some for myself! My person specifically said they didn't want anything too contrasty so I dyed it with different strength solutions of the same colour to give lovely variations and tones of the same shade. It was very pretty indeed.

princess pink3

My paperwork was Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Princess and the Pea" and I also included a recipe for pea soup and some information (of the useless but kind of interesting sort) about the humble pea.

My pattern suggestion was this felted princess hat (same as I made for N3) but I guess if my swappee didn't want to do a dressup then 200g would make some longies or a jeresy for her baby girl - hopefully she'll find a use for it.

And the gifty part was some sweet pea seeds (which doubles as a big clue as to who was sending it!!!), some sparkly princess fabric and some "pea " stitch markers I made

gifts to go with yarn swapyarnswap1

I think it came together rather well in the end. It is a lot of fun to try and think of a theme that will suit your person and to put the pieces all together. The sort of thing where you wake up at 2am with another brilliant theme idea!

yarnswap sending

The best part for me is knowing that my person liked what they received.

The second best part is eagerly anticipating a parcel of my own!

Ps. Also thanks to Anna who may have helped with the inspiration for this theme xx

Friday, February 6, 2009

Testing Kaia

I have a friend who is the queen of knitting little cute dresses and tops for her much adored little girl. Every one she has knitted is just so sweet. Eventually all this little girl knitting led her to making up her own pattern for a very cute little girl top....

The Kaia BabyDoll


She asked me if I would help her test knit the size 2 pattern. And of course an opportunity to help a friend and knit something summery and sweet for M1 was an opportunity I wasn't going to pass on.

At this point I'll apologize for the photo heavy post I'm about to subject you to. The light was good, the subject was being adorable, the top is so lovely it deserves a few extras!

kaia closeup colour

I used Paton's Smoothie to knit this. Both balls I picked up at my LYS in the clearance/end of lines bin for half price and I had always intended to do a summery something for M1 with it since there was only 2oog. I do like this yarn. Its acrylic but I think its lovely for a summery yarn. A teeny bit splitty but the overall result is lovely and smooth (funnily enough).


The pattern is a lovely design. The bodice is knit with 2 strands held double (ala the ballet tee) which gives it quite a bit of structure (and bonus you don't have to do too many repeats before its the right size!). The Smoothie is quite a thick DK (I think its more like a light worsted myself) so the bodice on mine is a bit bigger than what the pattern intended - no worries for me as this will definitely do 2 summers. I think some of the other testers used Bendigo cotton which is much thinner - probably a better choice.

kaia5kaia profile

The skirt is knit just on one strand. I love the length of this on M1. She's rather rounded and quite big for her age, that combined with a cloth nappied derriere means I do have an awful time finding pants that stretch enough to fit her!! Tunic length tops and leggings underneath have been my choice for her this summer. And this top looks just gorgeous with the black ribbon and black leggings under.

I was a naughty test knitter and didn't do the lace bottom the pattern actually calls for - its very sweet but I seem to be lace challenged (even dead simple lace) so I just did a 3 row ruffle instead.

kaia back view
M1 and our impressively tall bean plant

At the moment the pattern is up for sizes NB-12mth. I suspect the size 2 version won't be too far away either. Georgie you can queue the pattern here ;)

As far as cute summer tops go I think this one rates right up there. Well done Rach!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Waitangi Day

Today it's a public holiday here. It's also the first week of the new school year, so it makes for a nice easing back into things with a short week.

For my non NZ readers.....Waitangi Day is where we celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which is considered by most to be the founding document of the nation. Signed by Maori chiefs and representatives of the English Crown on the 6th February 1840 at a spot called Waitangi.

The Treaty was meant to be a partnership between Maori and the colonisers, offering protection for those things that Maori held dear, and a way forward for new settlers to make a new home here. For those who had land confiscated/sold illegally, who were forced from their anscestral lands, who were banned from participating in traditional activities in the years following the signing, the Treaty didn't deliver on the promise of a new relationship. In the past Waitangi Day celebrations have been marred by violent protests by those wanting to highlight Treaty injustices and remains a topic in which there is often heated debate.

In today's world the Treaty is at the fore of governmental activities concerning Maori and there are processes for trying to recognise and amend wrongs done in the past. While some see this as a never ending gravy train, others see the apologies, reparations and new partnership agreements as a positive way forward for iwi to once again be in control of their own activities and direction. The mood at Waitangi these days is one of celebration and reflection and moving forward.

waitangi view from treaty grounds
View from the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi

For those that live in Paihia & Waitangi today will see the sleepy little tourist town (pop about 4,000) swell, as thousands of people come to join in the official celebrations. This year they are expecting around 45,000 people to visit the Treaty Grounds over the long weekend.

We were living in Paihia for the past two Waitangi Days. It was amazing to see the crowds come to town, the lower marae fill with visitors, the streets shut off, the bridge full of people walking up the hill to the Treaty Grounds - the site where the Treaty was signed. I am so grateful we had the opportunity to be part of celebrating our nation's history.

This year it is a strange feeling to watch it all on TV and see sights so familiar yet be so removed from them.

waitangi meeting house
Meeting house at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

For some Waitangi Day is simply a day off to enjoy the summer sun.

For others it is a day to reflect on our nation's journey.

For me this year I will be remembering our time living in Paihia and the friends we left behind.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Needle Felting

Its swap central around here at the moment. I'm in the middle of the sending season for 3 different swaps (the organised group type ones). The only one I've managed to send off so far is my "Pincushion Swap".

I was a bit hesitant signing up for this one as I don't sew so was limited to knitting something (was originally planning on knitting a cupcake with "pin sprinkles" on the top). That was until I got Complete FeltMaking (Gillian Harris) out of the library. What an amazingly inspiring book! Lots of great instructions for making all different types of felt. I've wanted to try needle felting for some time, especially after seeing Julie's fantastic needle felted angel and the clever creations of Sharonnz and Nova.

So I gave it a go.... and was surprised at how easy and fun (and ever so slightly addictive!) it is....

Needle felted hearts

And it just so happened the book had a pattern for a needle felted pincushion, so this is what I made for my swap....

Pincushion (size)


And here it is next to the picture in the book. I don't think I did too badly for a first try
Pincushion (next to pattern in book)

It was a lot of fun (except it hurts like a %$#* when you stab yourself with the needle!!!!) and my person seemed to really like it which is the main thing! I don't think this will be the end of my needle felting adventures!

A dose of reality


New school bag, new shoes
New year began yesterday
New class, new friends
New beginnings

A dose of reality for Mum