From hank to ball and a new stitch

Over Christmas I visited Hokitika for the first time – the joy of family who relocate enabling you to see new places. For some unknown reason I did a bit of advance preparation, as in I found out there was the world famous, or “perhaps world famous in NZ” Sock World Hokitika – here is their website and facebook page. Small town NZ is a large part of my childhood so I love to support local endeavours. And while I am absolutely not the world’s best sock knitter – I have yet to even try knitting a pair of socks – I am of course craft curious, and my before I went search had alerted me to the fact that they may have also sold yarn… And of course it was the yarn that I was after, I wanted to buy something that I would associate with the place.

For my little girl, with her input (have to have that these days unless you are keen to start WW3!) I have three hanks of beautiful 10 ply Waterspout Felted Yarn (75% superfine merino 25% possum). It is so light and soft. No idea what I will make for her yet, but that is part of the adventure. There is a beautiful hint of black in the yarn.

Anyway last night for the very first time I took a hank of yarn and created a ball of yarn. I am so proud of myself! It is a huge ball – I put the tape measure in the photo for a sense of scale, it is about 12 cm in diameter. I followed the sage advice from Craftsy here, and in reading the comments there was a great tip about continuing to wrap the yarn around your finger as you create the ball; it worked a treat.

Sock World HokitikaSo what am I going to make with the beautiful sea green teal that I bought for myself? What I initially wanted to make is the utterly gorgeous pleated scarf by Jen Geizen on the left below, but alas I do not have enough yarn. I suspect I may go out and buy enough of some other yarn to make that scarf – I love it! Instead I am going to try a new stitch – the garter drop stitch – the effect looks amazing, yet the technique appears rather easy; a combination I am fond of. There is a pattern for the scarf on the right below, but you almost do not need it. Hoping to finish the scarf for this winter. And here’s to the family staying put in Hokitika for a while, I want to go back to Sock World Hokitika and buy more!

Image on left courtesy of Craftsy.com and image on right courtesy of Redheart.com

Cafe Melbourne in Thames

I consider myself a small town girl in origin. Devonport was my first home, after the age of five I lived in a village in the UK, returning to NZ from the age of ten where Thames was home until I headed off to University.

I was recently back in my old home town of Thames, not having been there for three and a half years. In that time a new cafe has opened, Cafe Melbourne, supposedly bringing some Melbourne to Thames. Given I reside in Melbourne, and have done for 12 years, and have one of the best cafes in Melbourne on our proverbial doorstep (Auction Rooms), feel qualified to pass comment on whether Cafe Melbourne is bringing some Melbourne to Thames… And it does!

We were only in town for for 3 days, and went twice.  The coffee is GREAT, and the food DIVINE.  I laughingly joked (semi-seriously) this is good enough that can we come back on the weekend? (knowing we would be back in the real Melbourne). My other half said the food was of Auction Rooms quality – for those of you who have ever ventured to the Auction Rooms in North Melbourne, this is high praise indeed, even more so if you knew my other half!

And as an aside – the owner’s back story is on the back of the menu, worth the read so won’t spoil that surprise. And as it is with small towns, my Dad was a frequent purchaser from the owner’s father’s shop many years ago, so that random thread of connection.

Did not even think to take photos (or is that, was too lazy to take photos of my own…), here are some of theirs instead. If you ever pass through Thames visit – you will not be disappointed. Imagine any choice from the menu will delight, I highly recommend the chicken salad – it was to die for!

Cafe Melbourne Thames

Cafe Melbourne Thames

Photos courtesy of CafeMelbourne.co.nz

This is living…

Had the very recent joy of an overdue and not long enough holiday – aren’t they always! Visited Glenorchy for the first time in my life. For those of you unfamiliar, Glenorchy is a small town at the top of Lake Wakatipu. It was a sensational autumn day last Thursday, no wind, sun shining, a lake so still it was like a mirror. Look a little closer at the photo below, a perfect reflection of the floating platform – did not even realise until now. My response to standing on the jetty looking at this vista is that work is highly overrated! If you ever happen to visit I can recommend the Glenorchy Cafe & Bar.  We had a coffee and sat in the sunshine admiring some fantastic sculptures. The photo does not do the piece justice – the detail in the work is amazing, the work is exquisite. The sculptor’s name is Dan Kelly, and he has a site here.

Glenorchy Queenstown New Zealand

dan kelly sculpture

 

Yarn appetite sated for now

According to my Mum, my grandmother always used to say a little bit of what you fancy does you good.  I have always kind of liked that, in fact I kind of try to live by it.  And as part of ensuring at least a little bit of time to myself (a working mum’s rare treat!), about a month ago I went to the Yarn and Craft Market hosted by the Handknitters Guild.  So much beautiful yarn…I was very restrained and purchased with my new baby bootie range for my Made in North Melbourne Etsy store in mind – two merino in the traditional pink and blue and one utterly gorgeous yellow in merino/cashmere.  I was so taken by the name of the wool, how can you resist Mother’s Love for making baby booties?  This is a locally hand dyed yarn by the almost eponymous Dyed By Hand Yarns.  I have not started knitting with it yet, but will show you when I have.  I think sunshine yellow booties might appeal.

And very recently I purchased some wool just for me.  It is delectable.  I know – not a word you would normally associate with wool, but it is just so divine.  I had the good fortune recently to be in picturesque Arrowtown in New Zealand, and wandered into The Stitching Post (what a cool name for a store) and knew I could not leave without a purchase, it was just a matter of what.  There it was, hanging up, a big loose hank of incredible softness, lightness and colour, hence delectable.  The yarn is Alpine (though that might be the colour) from Touch Yarns, and is a super fine kid mohair, merino wool.  And for the far more seasoned knitters that I, this would come as no surprise – because even though to the eye the yarn is slender in appearance it knits as 12 ply.  The lovely man at the store wound it into a ball for me (read he took pity on me, may have been something to do with the fact that I had asked whether I could knit the wool directly before it was wound up in a ball…!).  They even gave me a free pattern.  I started knitting my delectable new scarf last night.

Christmas all round

First up the sins of the parents… Or put it this way we have brought the following on ourselves.  It would be fair to say that we are partial fond of caffeine.  For a relatively recent birthday I gave the other half a home barista course.  The deal being that if we wanted a manual machine it would mean that he would have to always make my coffee for me.

Our Christmas present to ourselves this year was a Nespresso machine. We were thinking of wrapping it up and putting it under the tree for our daughter to unwrap for us.  But after being purchased last Saturday it has been in constant use.

Now we have already given our daughter a habit.  In walking to the markets to buy fruit and veg on the weekend we started stopping at a cafe on the way home.  We are regulars now – they simply ask if we want the banana bread (hard to pass up).  And baby chinos are just cute.  It has been fun to watch her progress from eating with a spoon to drinking just like one of us.  Now it is much much worse.  Since Saturday we have been making baby chinos at home.  We of course tell her she is having coffee and recently when we went out for dinner she asked for a coffee.  I swear the waitress looked at us like we were unfit parents!

None of this sounds bad, but I can see a very near future when she shall demand one. Yesterday we had coffee and fruit mince pie at her little table. The day before we gave her one with her cereal.  Can you tell I am on leave?  Of course she can already tell when the machine is on.  Coffee the little voice pipes up.  Her father and her are going to be in a constant tussle over the two espresso cups. Not sure she’ll accept a “coffee” in her melamine cup!

Anyway enough about coffee.  As is the case in the southern hemisphere Christmas Day is a warm affair.  This is our very first time as just our little family.  In marking the occasion we sat outside when it was just the two of us while our little coffee addict had her nap.  As you can see, a Christmas tree dish, a NZ favourite – onion dip – in a dish of the South Island (if you look closely I marked the location of the section we bought this year!), and a heart dish to mark that Christmas is love.  And of course there was wine – a kiwi sauvignon blanc.  And by utter randomness in flipping over the bought Christmas pudding to remove the packaging I noticed it was made in New Zealand.  So a pretty good New Zealand – North Melbourne Christmas.  And in honour of the colder climes and tradition we are having some turkey, it is in the oven as I type – albeit we think we will eat it outside.

So finally in the words of Snoopy, from my favourite Christmas song (Snoopy & the Red Baron), “Merry Christmas my friends”.  See you in 2015.

Heaven where you least expect it

Sometimes the last place where you would expect to indulge yourself is the best indulgence of all.  If you are ever in the small town of Westport, on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, with part of an evening to spare I have an indulgence for you to experience.  The West Coast Bush Bath.

I have had the pleasure of this twice in my life now.  I am originally from a small country town in NZ and after living in the big smoke in more the one country you sometimes forget that small places can have really great ideas.  This is definitely one of them.

So what on earth is the West Coast Bush Bath?  It is a bath well big enough for two (they have a single option too) with bubbles if you want, outside, private, and surrounded by native NZ bush.  It is just heaven.  As the parents of a small child the sheer decadence of the two of us lounging in a bath without interruption while the outlaws looked after the sleeping girl cannot be underestimated.  My sister-out-of-law had made it really special by a chilled bottle of champagne and candles.  Life doesn’t get any better.