Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm back

It's been about four months since I posted on here. I have a dozen reasons but I needn't go into them. We're coming out of a cold polar blast of snow (snow! I can't believe it), sleet, hail, wind, blizzards. Spots of sunshine in small pockets too. How bizarre! Wellington hasn't had snow like this in 40 years, and no snow at all since 1995.

I lost my camera a while ago (one of the reasons for the break in posting) so have had to make do with cell phone pictures.

On crafting news, I have completed so many projects but haven't been able to photograph them. Except this ballet cardigan for Georgia. She's been enjoying the warmth and softness of pure alpaca all term in the cold ballet hall. Ah bliss.

I find the crafting and cooking quite comforting while I nurse myself back to 100% and keep my mind from wandering into fits of worry and anxiety. Domesticity grounds me. I feel the warmth of generations of women homemakers who have also practised these simple (and some not so simple) skills for their families and themselves. I cherish quiet times when I can pick up my knitting and sink into a safe cocoon of my small world at home, a complete world, timeless and perfect as the children grow a little each day and we adults replenish our energy for the day ahead.  I am trying hard not to get overly excited or overwhelmed by anything. It's difficult having to slow down, but there are benefits for the whole family.
And so much wonder in the nature that surrounds us, we needn't go far to find it.

Containers of vegetable seeds grow beside our fireplace, reminding us of the season just around the corner. Spring is coming soon and I hope we have a full vegetable garden this year.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

staying at home and baking

The rational part of me says it's a common sense way of making food when we are short of it and we don't want to or can't get to the shops.
The romantic side says it's one of the cool things about being at home with my young kids while I can. Baking. Cooking. Making...

We make these biscuits together. Hugo crushes the weet bix and adds the other ingredients. He's also a great little sous-chef when I make the bread mixture. Usually these days Georgia is at Kindy and misses out on the making. She still loves the eating though!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

sleeping bag from repurposed materials

This item of baby cuteness has been on my to-do list for ages now.

All my babies have slept in a sleeping bag from about  6 months old until they are old enough to wake from bed in the morning and need to walk to our room, about 2 years.
They do several things: comfort (once they are strong enough to wriggle free from a swaddling blanket); stop them kicking their blankets off and getting cold; signal bedtime. I swear by them and have so far been using a cotton go go bag by
Heading into winter here, I wanted a lined wool one for Adelaide. The outer layer was a really ugly wool skirt made of the softest merino wool knit fabric, wrap-around style with two panels crossing at the front. I just kept two panels to make the bottom of the sleeping bag and used a simple bodice pattern to create the top. Lining it was a problem only because I had it all wrong in my head and forgot to sew it as an open garment, instead I fiddled around with a closed neck and only one side opening, which closes with a zip.
It's lined with an old merino wool top and some flannel I had planned to make pyjamas with. Very warm and will easily fit until 2 years old.
The vintage button just tidies up the top of the zip a little bit. You don't really need one there, but it looks pretty I think.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Having had my hands busy spinning yarn for the last few weeks and spending part of that time thinking about the merits of knitting, I stopped to watch this spider spinning its web on our shed. Isn't it marvellous how it knows instinctively how to balance the sticky threads for strength and support, using all its limbs to feel its way. It makes my attempts at knitting look amateur.

Although, progress is looking good so far on the Aidez cardigan. The wool arrived and so far I've used three balls. I really can't wait to wear this!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

pasta pasta machine

These can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for up to two (2) weeks.

Filling up to you.
We use whatever's fresh. Tomatoes, spinach, fetta, capsicum, onions etc. the trick with spinach is it must be wilted first or air pockets form.

Homemade pasta: enjoy fresh or frozen, any day. Make it in advance for a party, go on, it will be so special.

sewing for the sick

I'm sorta finished this outfit for my aunty. It's been a hard time photographing it as my husband's not here to take pictures. Apologies, it's not getting the best light or modeling etc, but you get the general idea.

and this is a truer colour representation:

The fabric is a very very light cotton knit, and it's been difficult to work with in some ways. It gets small holes from the needle pricks and any unpicking can cause a bigger hole. It stretches and needs a slight zig-zag stitch, but because it's so fine the fabric tends to pucker, making seams too rigid for the stretch/knit. Needless to say the armholes and shoulder seams have been a bit of a bugger and I've redone them twice.

Pity then, that the next time I sew this pattern, I have more of the same fabric, just a different colour (yes, denim blue, my trend for winter). I also have some red merino knit to make one for a great aunt in Christchurch (she could do with some cheering up after the earthquake), so I hope that'll be easier to work with.

I have overlocked everything, even the raw edges. It has made a big difference to it looking slightly professional (for my standards).

Love the pattern. It's Simplicity 2603. It can be worn about 15 different ways. Some I have modeled for you. Badly, but...

The undertop is also included in the pattern. Only thing is, I used silk (unstretchy) for a pattern that called for a stretch knit. To make up for the lack of stretch I used a M size (to go with a S for the cardy) and added some width and length when cutting out. It has no zip closure, just a pullover style. Hope it fits!

To 'top' it off (gosh I'm funny) I made another chemo turban. The knit fabric was wonderful here, so light, yet warm and stretchy.

I intend to make more of those and drop them off to the hospital or Cancer Society.
Which brings me to these:

Hats for men, well, chemo caps for men. Because men get cancer too. These are easy to make from soft light merino knit and can be personalised as I have done with a message stamped around the rim (hard to see in this crappy photo) or a small piece of fabric sewn on. Whatever you fancy.

The one Hugo is modeling was made for a child and is slightly smaller (exactly to the pattern actually). For adult sizes I have treated the pattern as if it needs seam allowances added. That has given it enough room for the adult head. Hugo's head is 19", Georgia's is 20" and mine is 23" to give you some idea. I fit the adult one snuggly. It should be a snug fit. But perhaps for chemo caps, given the patient may have had head surgery (as my aunty has done) a looser fit would be nicer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

baby bolero

Another Hadley Fierlinger pattern from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies.

This one is for summer, though knit in wool to offer some real warmth when needed to the Adelaide's core. It's really cute and cuddly and goes with everything. I also love that it has no front so spills and food stains aren't a problem.

  This knit really changed with blocking. At first I had a puckered mess that wouldn't sit flat. After washing and blocking it now has a nice look. And she's gorgeous in it.

As if we needed a reason to love her any more...

My notes are on Ravelry here

Monday, February 28, 2011

knitting ahead

I have cast on for the child's tomten jacket for Hugo. It's an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern from Knitting without Tears. More on Zimmermann later. The gauge directions were for a newborn (5 stitches an inch) which I got with my needles and aran weight yarn.  So I added 8 stitches as directed to get a toddler size. How annoying then, that what I have is HUGE, much huger than Hugo. Perhaps he will fit it when he is five...
Anyway, it has been an ok knit. Lots of garter stitch, well, all garter stitch. I have switched to continental style knitting for this one because it's faster and less stress on the wrists. That style doesn't suit purling though, so it's only good for stockinette in the round or plain garter stitch on back and forth knitting, I've found.

 Also on my knitting radar are some gorgeous knits FOR ME! I have never knitted a garment for myself (or any other adult size) so this (Aidez) will be 'the big one'. What an awesome free knitting pattern website! I have only just discovered it after finding the pattern on Ravelry. It answers all my wants for something cosy and warm, bulky but shapely, chunky but detailed in the cables, and it calls for thick wool so it won't take too too long to knit.

The yarn for it is on its way. Chunky merino in a denim shade. Yay! 40 balls of it. Yay! I can knit anything without worrying if I'll run out of yarn.

Also with this wool, another 'big one' for me: the ever popular Owls sweater. Can't wait to have one. It will be denim coloured too. I'll  be wearing a lot of denim blue this winter. Beats the greys and blacks of all my previous winters!

This little 'milo' vest for Hugo is another matter. I have only 2 balls and it doesn't state a yardage (or how many metres/yards per ball). I'll have to wing it and if I run out near the end I'll add some colour work to the yoke. It's a very popular pattern. I finally bit the dust and purchased a copy (pdf download, so easy, wish I'd done it earlier). It's well worth the AUS$ 5.00 because it has sizes up to 6 years and variations for the cable panel in the front and every size adjustment is all mapped out for you.

This cone of wool was a dud purchase (though only $12). I thought it would be softer, but alas, it's as scratchy as those old handknits that made acrylic so popular in the 1970s. I can't think of a use for it, other than knitting dog jerseys for Mum's three, or just keep it as a giant cone of string for household use.

I also spied in the latest NZ FQ magazine that deep burgundy reds were back this winter for lipsticks (like the colour of my chair in the picture there). How that pleases me so. It was the 90s when it was last in (my teenage years) and it reminds me of Drew Barrymore and 90210. Denim and burgundy then. Navy and merlot. Nautical and plum. However you name it, it sounds pretty good to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

brick support

These are shallots grown in our garden over spring and summer. We harvested them, dried them for two weeks outside, then plaited the leaves into this handy storage string.

This photo makes me feel uneasy today, because yesterday Christchurch suffered a massive earthquake sending many old brick structures to the ground (and some newer ones of other materials). The impact has been massive and many lives lost.

Our house has a brick facade (meaning it's structural core is wooden) and there are cracks in quite a few places. The most worrying part is our brick chimney which we think could fall into the living room during a large quake if it happened here. So we made some plans last night as to what we'd do and need in a major earthquake. My main job after the shaking has stopped is to turn off the gas mains outside and check the neighbouring properties' gas mains (and take care of the kids and check on neighbours!)

Perhaps this is a timely reminder for all of us to make preparations for such disasters. We never know when they will strike. Here is a useful source of information from Civil Defense.

My thoughts are with the poor people of Christchurch. Luckily my family there escaped unharmed (apart from one with minor injuries). We all want to know what we can do to help support Christchurch. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

toddler bed valance (bed-skirt)

A while ago we made a cute toddler sized bed for Hugo. It has his cot mattress on it (1300mm long).

While there is plenty available in the way of sheets and blankets, there are no valances for this size mattress.

The quilt I made last year had some scraps remaining and I have since planned to make them into a valance to match. Yesterday, finally, it happened!

Hmm, doesn't look so great close up, because of the fraying, but that was the intention to get it matching with the quilt. The rag quilt.

It hides the ugly boxes of toys under his bed and the ugly bed frame.

It's so good to finish a project.

It's made of some old sheeting, the edges sewn up onto a basic rectangle the size of the bed frame (and mattress).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Your window of soportunity

It is 11.11
It is the perfect time to go to sleep.
The perfect time to go to sleep is 11.11
“Eleven Eleven!”
If you close your eyes now
You will hopefully drift off into a wondrous slumberous dream
Leaving all thoughts and cares of the day
In your wake.
If you think too hard about it being 11.11
And therefore the perfect time to go to sleep
You may miss your chance
And misfortunately open your eyes to read the clock saying,
Gasp, 11.12, ‘…no…’,
Then shut them tightly and try
To get that drifting back.
The next time you open your eyes
The clock will glare in angry red
11.27. Twenty-seven!
And then you know you’re really stuffed.
You’ve missed your window and now you must prepare to fight
Insomnia as she whisps you under her black cloak of endless night.
You might as well give up,
Get up,
And write.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

little boy baking

He's been in the kitchen most mornings, either of his own volition or because I'm coaxing him out of a mid morning lull without his big sister to entertain him. However, why ever, he loves the baking!

He gets his little apron on, takes a bowl from the cupboard. Gets the eggs, cracks two in the bowl, peels the bananas, starts mashing them and then just helps generally with all the pouring and mixing. Last of all he licks the bowl with great delight.

We've just finished making a batch of banana muffins, his favourite.

The other day, we made these fruit buns, the old fashioned, long way. Proving bread actually provides a whole morning's worth of baking. He gets to do the mixing first, then take a break while it proves. Then pounding and kneading and poking, forming into balls. Then another break.

Then the eating!

The recipe is from Laurie Black's book, New Home Cooking.
I have adapted it by mixing all the milk with the yeast at the beginning and adding whatever fruit I have available. It works well with wholemeal flour too.