Monday, February 28, 2011


I'm pretty excited that my passionfruit vine actually grew some passionfruit, three of them, woohoo.  They taste good!  I ate them all and did not share (the man's away and the kids are too busy easting all the grapes to notice).

I feel so lucky living 5 minutes from the beach, if it's hot after school I can throw the kids in the water.  Last Monday was so warm even I went into the sea all the way up to my boobs, this does not happen often I swear that gorgeous blue water comes straight up from the Antarctic.

I'm also glad I don't live at either the bottom or the top of those cliffs - I can't stop seeing everything through earthquake eyes at the moment.  Trying not to look at this picture with earthquake eyes... 

The man and I escaped into town last Saturday night, and as we had a bit of time before our dinner booking we walked around the waterfront like we used to when we were "courting".  Just walking and talking on a late summer evening, enjoying the last of the sun and thinking how peaceful and beautiful it all is, and then you stumble onto something unexpected....

...a circus!  Nah, we didn't go, but I loved the tent.

The next day we stumbled onto something even more unexpected, a jousting tournament.  Yes, truly, honestly, a jousting tournament in a suburban park (where did you know they filmed part of the Lord of the Rings?).

Medieval enthusiasts in full armour or costumes of varying authenticity, jousting and doing hand to hand combat, spinning and grinding grain all on a stinky hot day in Upper Hutt.  The jousting was fun, and those horses are huge, the sword fighting was really fun, and the kids got to shoot bows and arrows, but I was disappointed that the food on offer was nothing more than the usual fair staples of hot dogs and Lil' Orbit donuts.  Lots of mead tasting though.

 We have a summer festival in our part of suburbia as well.  It's actually a pretty cool little festival, bands in park (in the band rotunda of course), the Blessing of the Boats, and a fair day, with the obligatory Clowns.  They still scare me a little, but my kids reckon they've got them sussed.

Being the hottest part of the year I of course spent an afternoon stacking wood so I will never be cold again.

And knitting a hat - in passionfruit and grape purple note!  (the Amanda Hat - I am  pathologically incapable of getting this lace pattern right).

And putting together a pretty in pink outfit at my local op shop: gorgeous embroidered skirt $6, like new red Country Road merino $7, 1970s "Sonny" cardy $5 (size 14, hooray for modern "flattery sizing", I do not want to be a size 14!), and a hot pink crochet scarf $2.  So uncannily co-ordinated I had to buy the lot.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What can I do?

I can't find the words to express the shock and grief I have felt since my father's hometown was changed forever last Tuesday.  Christchurch was struck by a violent earthquake a little before 1pm in the afternoon, barely 5 months after a massive 7.1 quake shook the city last September.  That time we were lucky, this time we were not.  "A Nation in Mourning" used to sound like media silliness to me, but now that is exactly what we are, a nation shocked and grieving, our understanding of the world forever shaken.

These things happen in other places, to other people don't they?

These are our friends, our families, our workmates, the strangers we pass on the street. 

I don't know what to say, but here are a few things I can do:

Donate online to the Red Cross, or the Salvation Army . 

Bid on the fabulous charity auctions now running on Trademe:

Bake for this slightly crazy but completely wonderful idea: The Great Sunday Bake Off

Take care and kia kaha, Christchurch!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Wanderer

This post has been driving me nuts, I took photos of my version, and now I can't find them in the multitude of drives and folders on our pc.  I've deleted them off the camera too.  But then I got super clever and stole one back from Ravelry.

Remember this?

She's called Happy Wanderer and you'll find her in Fontana Fashion Knits 1503, which unfortunately you're probably not going to find easily! 

"High fashion insists that summer's choice is also autumn's favourite.  A garment to lead you right through the year."

(Designed for T.V. knitting)

Well, either they felt the cold more back then, or global warming has kicked in, but I find this a tad heavy even for Wellington's dodgy summer, but I can imagine wearing it for a walk through the autumn leaves, or for some reason, walking the dog.  I don't have a dog.  Made for pretty good TV knitting though, and isn't the model gorgeous?  I thought if I knit one for myself I'd be gorgeous too ;-)

I used Jo Sharp Classic DK, in a colour called Lichen which is not quite green, and not quite gold.  I'm really happy with the way this has come out, super happy with my op-shop score of exaclty the right number (7) of  leather strip buttons.  (Actually I found instructions for how to make these in a 1970s Mon Tricot magazine just the other day, I will hunt them out and share).

I made a few changes to the construction of the pattern, but I kept it essentially exactly the same: I knit the waistband first, and then picked up stitches for the body, which I knit in one piece as a bottom-up seamless raglan.  Easy peasy.  I followed the pattern for the collar and button bands, which are folded double and stitched down.

Someday I'll hunt down who holds the copyright on these patterns (it's tricky, all the merging and folding of companies in the 1990s) and insist they let me use them.  I mean, what is the story with patterns published by companies that no longer exist? 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

100th Post - cheese, mysteries and celebrity spotting.

This is my 100th post!  And I'm just geting started....
Cheesy pattern time!

I don't have a problem with the knits, I actually quite like the knits (maybe not in pink), but the hair!  Jeepers - Thunderbirds are Go! (or are they Cindy dolls?)
What was the photographer's direction here?  It'll look better if you both gaze off into space, and think "alien".

Think alien!  WTF?

And I just don't know what to say about her him that.

But sometimes I really like the knits in retro patterns, not even proper old classy trendy vintage, but knits from my lifetime. I reckon these rock: (The 70s chick is gorgeous, but that dewy look makeup does her skin no favours - it's nice to be reminded of the world pre-digitally enhanced photos!)

A Puzzle
 In amongst those cheesy wonders I found this lovely 40s Patons fair isle book, but it has lost it's cover.  I'd love to know what it looked like - and to have the rest of the patterns that were printed on the cover and facing pages.  Let me know if you recognise these pages.

A Celebrity?
New Zealand readers - who do you think this is? 

And finally, the Bravery Award for 1974 goes to: 

 Carefree or not it takes a brave woman to ride a bicycle in white hot pants on any day of the month!  One of my favourite 70s ads.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Mulled Cider

Thea Colman aka Babycocktails is one of my favourite knitwear designers and she's been kind enough to trust me to test knit another of her lovely designs:  

This one is called Mulled Cider, it's a tweedy jacket/coat with fabulous leaf detail, twisted toggles and a generous collar that can stand up and keep your neck warm, or and in my case just flop back (I'm so much more of a flop than a stand up, ha).

Collar up. 

I've used three old school (fake) bone toggles saved from a much loved but now deceased sweater coat.  Confession time, Mulled Cider is not supposed to have 3/4 sleeves, it's meant to have nice long ones with a fold back cuff, but I am not to be trusted and didn't buy enough yarn.  My bad (I was so sure I had enough, I fully expect to find another ball lurking somewhere...).  In that 2nd pic I'm trying to hide the short sleeves, not make my boobs look bigger, honest.

Collar down and hanging loose.

I've used Elsebeth Lavold Twice Tweed, which is discontinued, but there are plenty of other suitable yarns out there.  I chose a wool/cotton/synthetic blend to keep my coat from being too warm and because I like the weight and drape a bit of cotton and nylon gives a long knitted cardy.   

How clever is the interweb?

Friday, February 4, 2011


I got a "new" Paton's Woolcraft book today:

1920s - such a perfectly Deco cover, her knitting looks like a bungalow window. This is my oldest one by far, "New and Enlarged Edition" (so maybe 2nd edition? no - scrap that I've found a 1915 version on-line (love some of the patterns in that one!) that also says new and enlarged - so 3rd? 4th?...), still "recipes" rather than patterns for "serviceable garments for every-day wear" :

Sadly she's in very fragile condition so I'll have to be gentle on her. I'm enjoying the names of all the old yarns - "May Queen Lustre Wool", "Purple Heather", "Shetland Floss", "Cycle Double Knitting", "Super Wheeling" (wheeling seems to be a generic term for a heavier weight wool like a modern double knit), "Rose", "Bramble", "Kingfisher", "Moorland. No Totem or Bluebell in sight.

I seem to be attracting a bit of a collection of Woolcraft books, I have a bad habit of doing that ;-)

The top 4 are English editions, the rest Australian.  I really think the cover designs are fantastic, until the 70s, they are pretty unispiring.  The English and Australian versions are quite different, different styling, photos, illustrations and choice of patterns.  The English ones are the 14th, 15th and 17th Editions (50s-60s), and an un-numbered 1970s edition.  The Australian ones are from the 40s, 50s, early 60s, late 60s, and early 70s - check out how the changing fashions, while the patterns barely change at all: 

Which ones do you have?  Which ones did your mum and gran have? :-)

It's great when they leave clues...

 Clues like cutting pattern pieces out of newspaper advertising the latest movies....

Jane Russell as you've never seen her before!  Like this do they mean?

1955 then?  In other news "speculation mounts about Princess Margaret and Group Captain Townsend".  She didn't marry him, he was divorced, it wasn't allowed.  It was 1955.

This is the pattern, I couldn't resist those cuffs - I like the short sleeved version best.

Shame I hate to sew...