Friday, September 28, 2007

From Sea to Sky

"There and back in one day" was over before it had properly begun. I wish I could have stayed longer but it was as well for my bank balance that I didn't!

It was great to see Alexander and Sarah and their friends, and to catch up with their news.

Lunchtime was spent at Lyall Bay in a restaurant that has been converted from the old retro Surf Lifesaving Club rooms .
A little bit of nostalgia for me. When I arrived in NZ at the age of nine in 1965, we stayed at Lyall Bay and I attended the primary school there for a few weeks. Not a particularly pleasant experience at school. Because of my "pommy" accent I was made fun of a lot, and other children found me quite strange, a bit like an alien really, which of course I was. I found the vegemite and lettuce sandwiches not much to my liking, and hated the trips to "the murder house"where the dental nurse there practised her limited skills on me for hours at an end. Those are my main memories, and staying in a funny old wooden house at the top of a hill, that we got to after climbing "hundreds of steps".
Today I had a little wander around Kirkcaldie & Stains and was delighted to find some Villeroy and Boch china. I fell in love with this china in Luxembourg, and I didn't realise that it could be purchased here in NZ. I bought this tiny little green glass dish . It is only three inches wide but very cute.

I managed to squeeze these into my handbag too. My favourite tea from T leaf Tea. Mum and I shall have a special brew tomorrow.

Have a great weekend everyone !

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A shade of blue

I was pretty happy with these results from the dyeing I did yesterday. Inspiration hasn't struck yet as to how I shall knit /weave it/crochet this lovely yarn. It is very soft and in between 4ply and double knit.
The colours are actually more muted than this photo shows.
I am off to Wellington very early in the morning to visit our two youngest children. They are both studying at university there and I am expecting a fun day visiting Sarah's favourite shops , looking at Alexander's work in progress and their respective flats ( actually , I probably won't want to visit their flats, much too depressing, I will take them out for lunch instead .)
It promises to be a good day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sweet Pea Time

I am mad about sweet peas, they are my favourite flower. I love everything about them... the fragrance, colour, the delicate petals , the way they climb on everything, and they are so pretty in a vase.These aren't real of course, they are just in use until the real ones come along in a couple of months.
We spent some time today getting ready for planting the seeds.Tamsin came to visit with her girls, and made two beautiful frames.When she was younger she used to spend hours making the most wonderful floral wreaths out of bits and pieces she found in the garden. Each one was very different and would last for ages.

Today she cut some bamboo and passionfruit vines and worked her magic with her busy fingers.Now we just need the sun and Kings seeds, and I will soon be able to pick big bunches of my favourites.

These grandies were having a fun time as well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some Dyeing and Digging

Spent the morning with our Creative Fibre Group and brought home some perendale/angora, which I immediately put in a cold water dye bath on the bathroom floor, where it is nice and warm.
So hope that turns out OK. Then I went outside and planted some vege seedlings before the rain came down
Did a few inches of Sarah's throw

See where it opens for Double Weave ? Cool eh!

Then I did something that I haven't been able to do for several months now

"Hello old friend, welcome me home again, I've been away but that's all over now"

Sorry to break into a bit of James Taylor (I am a big JT fan from way back!!) Oh now I can see my kid's faces and hear their groans..whoops

My violin and I have been parted for way too long. I have had RSI in my right elbow joint and fiddling really aggravates it, but I have been working very hard with the physio and doing some Alexander Technique and now maybe we can get back together again.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Satisfying Saturday Afternoon

I had such a lovely afternoon.
The weather has been remarkable, more like Summer than Spring, and I thought I would wear a cotton top that I knitted last year. When I put it on I remembered why I hadn't worn it. The neck was too low and kept slipping off my shoulders and I felt a bit self conscious wearing it.
Anyway, while Ian was collecting my Mum and her wheelchair from the rest home , I was hunting around for oddments of the same yarn that I had made the top with.
Couldn't find the main colour but I found some more of the contrast and armed with a crochet hook, set to work to make it wearable for me!
We always do something with Eve on Saturdays, either she comes here or we take her on a mystery ride somewhere, and of course she loves shopping just like her daughter !

But today was so beautiful we sat on the deck chatting, and I finished my top with a crochet trim around the neckline and doing some short rows of crochet on the shoulders to give them some shaping.
Eve is back to her old self again, now that her arm is not so painful. Phew, such a relief to see her smiling and giggling again. Ian and I take her back to the bone clinic on Monday for another x-ray.

Billie is on hand to give her some TLC. He loves sitting on Mum's lap, and for a small puppy it's remarkable that he never fidgets with her. He will quite happily sit with her for hours, the little sweetie!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Double Weave Delight

I bet you all thought this entry would be "Double Weave Disaster", or DW Dilemma or other such titles, and you know it very nearly was.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and the whole warp was unwound from the back beam twice before I was happy to proceed.

Then when it came time to actually start weaving the four different layers of warp, I somehow managed to get myself in quite a muddle. I just couldn't work out the combination I needed to separate the fabric on one side and keep it closed on the other.

Yesterday I went to a local weaving group meeting with a notebook and a mouth full of questions. There was one lady there who gave me confident concise answers to my questions and I asked her if she would mind if I took her phone number.

Guess who I was phoning at 9.30am. Caroline said "tell me your address and I can be with you in ten minutes ".......imagine that !!! What a guardian angel she was today.

She had me weaving DW in ten minutes flat. I was estatic !

Look at my two little helpers.

Melissa, A and K came for dinner tonight, so I had to take them out to my workroom to show off my new skill.

I did discover quite a huge mistake this afternoon though. I totally miscalculated the width measurement with the warp ends, so the finished measurement isn't going to be as wide as I wanted. I rang Sarah ( youngest daughter and the recipient ) and told her it was going to be the size of a wrap / throw instead of a bed covering !!!!! She replied that she didn't mind at all and would LOVE it no matter what the size...see haven't I got gorgeous daughters ?

So I am feeling very happy tonight.

Yesterday afternoon I went to visit Tamsin (2nd daughter ) and her family.She wanted to learn how to spin, so I went armed with my spinning wheel and lots of carded fleece and we had a great afternoon. She was getting into the rhythm of it when I left, I think it must be in the genes .

I couldn't resist posting this picture of a beautiful giraffe that her daughter gave me. Esmae is five and has just started school. She is the eldest of our grandies and loves painting and drawing.

Isn't it cute ?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Precious Palette

I must have known something very special was going to happen today, because I woke early and decided to go to the gym , so I could spend the rest of the day tackling this:

Yesterday I finished warping up and put the warp on the back beam all ready for threading the heddles today.I am using a different method this time...putting the warp on from back to front instead of front to back which is how I've done it before. So it is all a little bit scary and I feel somewhat unsure and slightly anxious about the whole procedure.I wish there was a visual tutorial somewhere, or even better someone standing alongside of me telling me the way to go. Instead I am relying on a couple of books written by seasoned weavers. We will see, I am sure it will all be OK.

Anyway , my mind was full of this when I arrived home from the gym and collected the post .

A parcel from Caireen from The Patchwork Dress was there in the mailbox waiting for me and imagine my excitement when I opened it to find all this treasure.!

My heart was racing, and I am sorry to say Caireen, that I mindlessly ate the fudge whilst unwrapping all these jewels.

While I had my shower ( a great place to think and decide momentous matters ) I thought I would like to do a series of pictures . Scottish landscapes and some of the Marlborough Sounds(which is so similar to Scotland and her lochs). Little scenic pictures in wool,with the colours of the hills and the water, and of course the beautiful heather and wildflowers. Caireen wrote a card with this wonderful gift and the dear little bird, and she talked about Willow. It reminded me of this little arbour made of Willow

I mght have to embroider one of these in the landscape too. I have done very little freehand embroidery, but I am sure once I start I will be totally hooked. My Aunt has always embroidered beautiful pictures from photos and paintings that she has admired. Joyce did this embroidery of our youngest daughter Sarah , jumping on the trampoline when she was six.

Yes, this beautiful palette of colour that Caireen has so generously given, gives me endless possibilities.

Thank you so much Caireen, you marvellous girl !

Friday, September 14, 2007

Being Crafty

A new issue of knitty ( Fall 2007) has come out today, so go and have a peep if you are into knitting.I love the light and airy shawl named Muir, and there are some other innovative and "quick to knit up" designs there too.

Today we are unable to go outside, it is pouring down, but I am delighted.

Basil is not so pleased

On Wednesday afternoon I decided that I wasn't going to be missed if I took off for some solo time for a couple of days in my favorite place.

Did a little gardening yesterday but mainly I have been very crafty.This is my activities table:

and the rain has proven very fortuitous.

I shall head home this afternoon, refreshed and uplifted, all ready for the busy weekend.

Hoping you all have a lovely weekend and can spend some quiet time being crafty too.!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Creative Fibre Treat

I have just come home from having a a wonderful day with my friends from the Creative Fibre Group.
We started bright and early at 8am, boarded a bus and headed off to Picton, where the first stop was to meet a very talented weaver who lives down The Sounds. Peg Moorhouse has won many accolades over the years for her artistry in woven design and has won awards for her Wearable Arts as well. I was thrilled to meet her and to see her work and her very special loom. The most incredible and amazing thing is that she is constantly trying new mediums like paper and ribbon that she weaves into linen...such exotic colours and she is ninety years of age. Very, very inspiring !
This the view from Peg's house.

From there we drove to Blenheim where we had lunch with The Marlborough Creative Fibre Group and I purchased some beautiful Gotland and Alpaca carded fleece and some pale blue alpaca from Omaka Heights. This is a luxuriously soft roving and I intend spinning some very fine yarn and using it for lace knitting.

Then we hopped on our bus again and went to visit Rotocard. A home business, carding fleeces and I bought a little more Gotland (cause I really didn't have enough !) and then we went on to the Makana chocolate factory where we were given a wee taste.I thought I would buy Ian a little treat...chocolate covered cherries and some chocolate macadamia, delicious and quite decadent really.

On the way home I sat at the back of the bus with a real soul mate.We shared many stories and shared my ipod, an ear phone each. What a fantastic day.

I shall spend the evening spinning some Gotland fleece, bliss, bliss, bliss !

Monday, September 10, 2007

Works in Progress

Today I made a quick assessment of all the work I have yet to complete, or should I say "want to complete" or "hope to complete" by the end of 2008.

First up is one that I made for Melissa.I am handquilting it with N08 Perle Cotton and it is very tedious because the thread is so thick, my fingers become very sore and needles break !

The fabrics are Japanese and I bought them as a kit from Material Obsession. This photo doesn't do the colours justice, they are very sumptuous looking, and quite lush.

Next up is a Kaffe Fassett design from one of his recent books( can't remember which one). This is for Keira.

I am machine quilting this so it is waiting for a couple of free days for me to get cracking.

These are blocks from a block of the month design from a local shop that has since closed. I am hoping it will be finished for Sarah's 21st birthday.She chose the design and I have altered things a little to make it more personal for her

Whoops, I am not sure how to turn this photo up the right way.

This last is almost finished but has been put "on hold" whilst I am quilting the flower garden.

This quilt was a design out of a Patchwork and Quilting magazine and it has been taken from a quilt made in 1842.The fabrics I used are reproduction fabrics from the Civil War collection.

I have other works in progress but they can wait for another day.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Time and Familiar Places

Familiar places are wonderful aren't they. I have been coming here to this spot in the Marlborough Sounds since I was nine years old and it never loses it's magic. When I was " all grown up" I used to bring my babies here and now my children are bringing their babies here too. I LOVE the continuity of all of that and consider it to be incredibly precious and powerful.
Here I was today , yes that is the William Morris cross stitch and a cup of tea.
Earlier in the morning I was pulling weeds in the garden and I have a resident friend who always
comes to say" hello". He or she, is a very big shiny blackbird. He literally took a worm from the top of my shoe and had it in a gulp, then looked up at me as if to say" hmm, that was very tasty, yum ". I would have loved to have shown you a photo but I didn't want to spoil the moment, he probably would have flown away. There has always been a very friendly blackbird here...forty years or so of familiar blackbirds !It must be a generational thing.
Anyway, I have been thinking about family places and generations of families all living in the same spot and it reminded me of a beautiful house we went to visit in Sussex.It is called Standen
It was a country home built for a very wealthy family, James and Margaret Beale and their seven children. I think it was completely designed by Philip Webb. William Morris and his friends from the Arts and Crafts Movement furnished it throughout and put in all the special little extras of that period ( even the cute light fittings ). The original William Morris wallpaper was there and some reproductions of the original textiles. This was a family home that the women of that home had much say over. The mother and her daughters made many embroideries and tapestries and they spun wool and knitted too. There is an amazing oil painting of the mother looking quite austere, but her back is ramrod straight and she is knitting something very fine.

I am sorry about the quality of these photos, I took them from inside the book I bought there.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tired and Tearful

I wasn't going to post tonight, but when I came home after a long day and saw all your wonderful comments, I really wanted to.

The TV buying was a brilliant success and we installed it in Mum's room and organised for Sky TV to be installed as well. Settled Mum down with the remote and an afternoon of programmes and came home , only to be phoned by the staff at her rest home to say that she had had a nasty fall in the bathroom and wanted me asap.

Today has been a day of visiting Doctors, x ray dept. and finally tonight A and E at our local hospital to have her elbow put in plaster. She has to be seen again on Monday by the orthopaedic surgeon to talk about surgery for her left arm.

Anyway.............aside from all this personal stuff,I took my latest copy of Interweave knits with me and a ball of wool and my four trusty little bamboo needles.I thought I would have a go at the socks knitted from the toe up...see I made a start

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A TV Viewing Day ?

A good start is needed for today. We are taking my Mum to buy a flat screen TV for her little room at the rest home where she lives. This might be challenging or nerve wracking or could be a certain success, we will see. She has phoned me three times in the last half hour and I think it is going to be a day of reassurances. All WILL be well !

I finished this last night, and if it fits him ( and wants to wear it ) I shall be very happy .

It looks a bit strange on the table doesn't it, hopefully A will LOVE it ?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In the Pink

I'm sure these colours were following me around today as I walked around the garden. The wool has been wound from the hanks and I hope to start the warping process today.

Thank you all so much for your welcoming words, Ian (my DH) keeps logging on to my blog and calling out excitedly "wow, you have another comment". He does the same with tinyhappy as well, in fact it takes him quite a while to have his breakfast in the mornings now, he reads all the new writings on Melissa's blog . It makes him think that we aren't so unusual after all, there are lots more crafty ones like us out there in blogland!

Some of you mentioned that the quilt in First Entry was difficult for a first attempt. May I assure you that it was incredibly easy.I know that you could all have a go at making one , it is so much fun. Firstly I didn't have many fabrics so had to use scraps of cotton that I had left over from dresses and skirts etc and the background cotton was a cotton sheet that I cut up, the center of each flower is a boring green or pink that I had hand dyed using a length of calico and I used the English Paper Piecing method. I LOVE this method. I cut hexagon shapes out of old birthday cards (you get to read all the lovely birthday wishes again) and then cut slightly larger ( about 1/4 of an inch larger ) hexagons of fabric. Tack the fabric hexagon on to the paper hexagon and when you have a few of these you are ready to sew them together.I kept all the hexagons in a tiny little box and took it everywhere went. In those days all the children were young and we had music lessons, visits to the swimming pool etc etc, so I could get quite a few sewn up whilst waiting.

This is another quilt that I started in 1996 and finished in 2003 ( I loved working on it so much that I was quite reluctant about finishing it )

The pattern was from the cover of Quiltmaker 1996 and I have changed things a little. Again I used scraps from clothes and hand dyed some calico for the appliqued flowers
This little bird I included because we once had a canary called Jellybean and I loved making this border with the scalloped edges. This quilt uses the Drunkard's Path block and is an easy one to hand piece (not so easy on the sewing machine ).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Beautiful Cashmere

I believe it is called startitis. I woke with it quite early in the morning yesterday and it plagued me all day. The sun was shining and the garden was beckoning, but the startitis had a firm grip and I found myself feverishly looking through my collection of Spin Off and Interweave Knits magazines until the compulsion abated when I was able to start this:

Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A Clark , from Interweave Knits Fall 2006 and I am using my lovely Addi circular needles size 3.50. What a blissed out night, knitting this and watching Emma on TV.

The wool that I am using for the shawl is something very special that I also purchased from knit1london....100% cashmere from Devon Fine Fibres , this is the softest wool I have ever had the pleasure of knitting, it is exquisite !

Earlier in the day when the startitis was at it's most urgent I spent a comfy hour curled up on the window seat feeling a guilty pleasure as I started the first stitching on this from Bothy Threads ...a William Morris design that I bought from a gorgeous litttle shop in Edinburgh.

Bothy : a hut or cottage in which labourers lodge together.

Today I am happy to say that I am now back to normal and plan on finishing this for my favorite grandson ( yes, I can say favorite because he is our only grandson, all the other grandies are little girls !)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The colour is everywhere

Now that these wools have been chosen for Sarah's throw I seem to see the colours everywhere I look ,
The wools I am using are Touch yarns and I love working with them. They are produced here in New Zealand by Marnie Kelly and are kid mohair/merino, strong for weaving but very light and incredibly soft , the very dark one that you can see in the top picture is actually the colour of eggplant, and I am going to include a little splash of it here and there.