Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm having a pink fling!

Why did I choose this colour?  It would not be my usual choice.

Then I realised - it must because of my new(ish) cushions!

And luckily it goes with two or three of my frocks.

Miette, my last knit as a 30-something.  Yikes!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seriously Springy (with added shoe-porn for Pippa)

 Not so much knitting, lots of outdoorsiness.  Lots of colour and bright promise in my little bit of blue heaven.

Cherry blossom

Camellia - spring is pink and green

Grape vine


Pear blossom - very pretty but it smells awful!

The fleeting bright, light green of spring - willows.

The sunshine even led to some garden excavations - I uncovered this old brick retaining wall:

And in honour of the warmer weather I'm busting out my Birkenstocks - rock those clogs!

Next up - pink and green knitting ;-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dressing up

I used to love dressing up when I was a kid (yeah, I know, I still do).  It was just the best fun rummaging around in our mothers' voluminous '70s dresses, knee high boots, frothy 60s petticoats and lashings of costume jewelery.  If you were really lucky you had grandma's things as well.  My favourite places for playdates were ones with seemingly bottomless dress up boxes, so one of my first duties as a mother is to ensure a well stocked dress up box.  

My daughter spent the whole weekend dressed like this.  She styled it all by herself which is seriously cool, I sent her to change out of her netball gear and she came back looking like this.  She was aiming for Elizabethan (they're studying history at school), but the effect is perfectly Victorian.  The dress we found in a 2nd hand shop, I suspect it was theatre costume, or maybe a first communion dress.  The petticoats are her grandmother's from the 50s (old underwear makes the best dressups). 

Yeah, blurry photo, but I like it.  The orange earrings belonged to my friend, Paola, who gave them to me sometime in the 80s. I hope that was a give not a loan, otherwise I've been a bit slack returning them! 

We had a terribly serious photo shoot until Miss Z farted.

And that was hilarious.

Break out the Bongos

I've finished my Down Beat sweater.

For some reason the arms which were supposed to be bracelet length have come out full length after washing.  No doubt they'll shrink again, they always do when you don't want them too.

I can't give you the pattern as such as it is still under copyright, but here are some notes if you wanted to adapt a basic raglan (stop reading now if you're not a knitter!):

  • Knit in bulky wool at 14sts to 4".  I knit size 34" - finished garment measures about 36", which is plenty of ease on the bust, not so much on the hip (if you're more womanly shaped than teenage) so I would suggest adding a couple of inches to the bottom and decreasing to the waist (personally I wouldn't give it in-out waist shaping, an a-line is much more in the 60s groove).

  • I converted the pattern to work in the round, as a seamless raglan, from the bottom up,  Front and back are identical, no shaping in the original pattern but I think it would be very flattering and still have a 60s groove if you made it an a-line shape as suggested above.

  • Sleeves are bracelet length with quick increases to just past the elbow, upper arms have plenty of ease.

  • Once I got up to the bit where the yoke dips down I worked the rest of the top back and forth in two halves - from the centre front to the centre back.

  • The shaping for the yoke is formed by casting off stitches (16 in this version) along the centre front and back, the decreasing every other row up the sides.  you want to end up with about 18sts at the top of the sleeve sections, and just 1 in each body corner. 

  • I picked up and knit stitches for the yoke, rather than knitting it separately and sewing it on afterwards as in the original pattern.  That just sounds like a hideous thing to do, sewing it on straight and neat would seriously challenge me!  But I guess the pattern was written with your average 60s teenager in mind, and they probably didn't have circular needles or do anything as old fashioned as use DPNs.

  • The yoke and hem pattern is a simple combination of garter stitch and twisted stitches: (k into front of the 2nd st on the left hand needle, leaving st on needle knit into 1st st on left hand needle, slip both sts off the needle together, k into back of 2nd st on left hand needle, leaving st on needle knit into 1st st on left hand needle, slip both sts off the needle together).  5 rnds garter, 1 rnd knit (or purl working flat), pattern round, 1 rnd knit (or purl working flat), 5 rounds garter.

  • The yoke is worked back and front - the edges and button loops are crocheted.  Could easily work the yoke in the round without the button placket, it is wide enough.
Well, I think that's all :-)

Look, it's reversible!

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Clothes and Stuff

Well, you know I like the op shops?  I had a marathon op-shopping session today, only interrupted by a coffee break, a laksa break, and having to pick up the children from school.  It was a good day!

Help me choose my party dress:

Flowery and floaty:

Or really very 1970 cocktail party:

'Scuse bad pics taken with phone in opshop changing room.  Funny crotch bumps are my jeans under that slinky polyester.  That dress is a 1970s size 14!  I'm a modern NZ 8-10 which is about a US 4-6.  Sizes really have shrunk (the numbers shrunk, or the clothes grew).  My first adult clothes were a size 12, and no way am I ever smaller than I was at age 12!  Who do they think they're kidding?

Or I could wear my Marcia Brady dress, except that actually does makes me look 12.

We'll be drinking out of these, they look full, when they're not, ha! 

I've spent so much time looking at old knitting patterns I think I've grown retro perception filters, I can spot a vintage handknit in a rack of manky charity shop clothes at 20 paces.  I can pretty much pinpoint the patterns, or at least the genre - most old patterns are variations on a few themes.  Unfortunately most old style sweaters that turn up in 2nd hand shops are huge, or horribly pilled, or in hideous colours of hideous acrylic. 

But every now and then you hit the motherlode:

Oh my golly gosh I wanted a 2 colour 1960s sweater sooooo much, but the thought of actually knitting one - all that stranding, and you would have to do it in very fine wool or it would be so thick and bulky.  So finding one for $5, in good colours, and my size!!!  How perfect is that?

And just to make my day extra perfect, as I passed the newsagents I discovered that it's Frankie and Fry's (Turkish Delight bar) day again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

...and you'll never be blue.

Finished my Down Beat sweater, my first unadulterated grown up vintage knit.

Can't show you any more just yet because it's blocking.  I was thrilled to discover the pattern called for buttons on the yoke!  You don't really need them, the neck is wide enough for my head, but any excuse to raid the button tin.  I've chosen a mis-match of bluish plastic buttons that have a 60s feel.  I like 'em.

Not sure about the 60s fit yet - the arms are very baggy, the body dead straight.  Not entirely flattering, although maybe if I had a teenage figure....

The pattern has the yoke knitted as a piece and sewn on.  Yuck!  I picked up the stitches and knit it that way.  I guess they were writing for straight needles, and it would be mighty tricky to pick up and knit without a circular needle.

Can ya tell I've got my hair in bunches like the original model?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Trying to find a good picture for my birthday party invites.  Yup, I'm very nearly almost 39 again.  In the process I'm having fun finding random pics on the interweb.

We had the plane!  In fact it's still at my parents' and my kids play with it.
What did you have?

Guess what I drive?   OK, mine's a bit newer. 
Darn reliable car, except when the battery keeps going flat.

So this is going to be my party, I love Manhattans:

Have I got time to whip up one of these?  Maxi or midi? (sorry, 40s too sophisticated for mini).

I know, I know, I should knit a cocktail frock.  Or crochet! I have the patterns.....

Monday, September 6, 2010


Growing up in Wellington, right on top of some serious tectonic action, you get pretty used to earthquakes and to living with the knowledge that "the Big One" is coming.  But I've never felt anything bigger than an "ooh, there's an earthquake" shake, so what happens?  A Big One goes and hits 400 miles away in Christchurch early on Saturday morning.  My head is struggling a bit with the dissonance - this was supposed to happen here in Wellington because we are all expecting it and live in these draughty wooden houses because it's safer, but no, it happened in Christchurch where they still have lots of brick buildings because they don't get earthquakes!  This idea is so strong in my head that when radio voices talking of massive earthquake destruction filtered into my waking consciousness on Saturday morning, my first thought was - surely we can't have had a massive earthquake, I didn't feel anything and nothing is damaged?!  Being the modern world, the man leapt out of bed to get the iPad, and when I saw the pictures I just burst into tears. 

Incredibly, miraculously, thankfully no one was killed.  I know earthquakes and other disasters are happening all over the world all the time, causing far more destruction, death and loss of homes and livelihoods than this one.  But when it's a place you know well, where your friends and family live, it is shocking and heartbreaking in a whole different way.  There is something particularly sad about loosing so many of the heritage buildings - both the beautiful and the ordinary - that give a city it's character.

I'm sure everyone in New Zealand is going to hear plenty in the coming weeks about the importance of having emergency plans and supplies - but I'm going to say it any way.  Do take a minute to think how you would cope without power or water or sewage or the ability to get to the shops.  In this instance some services in some areas were back on within hours, but don't count on it!

My children are particularly interested in how we would cope without sewerage, especially the 9 year old who's been reading about Elizabethans and suggests we stick our bottoms out the windows - all I can say is I'm glad we have a garden!  I do not envy the rubbish collectors in Christchurch this week, I wonder if they'll have special "night soil" collection?

Kia kaha people of Christchurch in the coming days and weeks and months and years. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I love the postie....

....because she brings me new knitting books.  I also love the Book Depository because they have free worldwide postage, and send me cute little bookmarks.

Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts is an old favourite of mine, in fact it is permanently under my little side table that I keep my TV knitting on - never seems to make it back onto the shelf before I want to look in it again.  So I was very excited to see More LMKGs and ordered it right away, and the very day it arrived I knit the Pointy Elf Hat on the cover for Ryan.

Ryan Potter that is!  In his mind he is one bad ass wizard (and quite tall for his age too), but really he's just so intrinsically elfish (and short), he looks like a naughty pixie from a Magic Faraway Tree land.  this one really is a LMKG - taking less than 2 hours to knit and using about $2 worth of bulky budget wool/acrylic (thank you Spotlight for having a half price sale just when I needed it, amazing how satisfying a shopping experience Spotlight is when you're actually looking for cheap and nasty yarn).

And the Vintage Knits?  Time for another bloke sweater, and I rather like this one (link for Ravelers):

Of course, being Rowan, this is a gorgeous book full of ruddy cheeked English Roses in very tasty knits, so I am happy.  Although, I really don't get Kaffe Fassett.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spring - it's official

Spring officially starts today - unless you're an equinox advocate.  Actually I tend towards the equinox myself, but this year I can't wait!  And a buttterfly fluttered by today, what more proof do you need?