New from old blanket

In the kiwi vernacular I would say, “I suck the big kumara“, given the almighty gap between this post and my previous post. However I believe that for once the underlying cause is genuine. In about two months I will be relocating to Queenstown, New Zealand. (Do not get distracted, this is a post about about blankets, forget about Queenstown for now!)

Other than to be aware that at some point in the future we will have a large outdoor patio. To go with that patio I envisage we will need some hand knitted blankets for those days you want to be outside but there is a chill in the air. Given the speed of my knitting and that the number of blankets needed will be greater than one, I am starting the first blanket now; a Melbourne conception with what will ultimately be a NZ birth feels exactly right. For the first blanket I am copying inspired by one of The Twisted Yarn’s blog posts from 2014 (you can see why I am starting now!), an Arne and Carlos blanket. I love the idea of using up left over bits of wool. Way back when I used to sew I had the intention of making a quilt from everything I had sewn, a kind of memory of clothes and events. Great idea – never did it – though I did start. Quite fittingly I am starting this blanket with yarn I bought to knit a cardigan for my daughter. I went gang busters on the knitting doing a frill for the first time ever but never got around to finishing the cardigan (any bells ringing here?!). Of course I am hoping it is not an ill omen to use this wool to start the blanket. I am coupling it with the left over (yes you read that right!) gorgeous green yarn I bought in Hokitika last Christmas and my quickest ever completed project. I think that combo of never finished and finished the quickest balances out!

And for those of you still thinking about Queenstown, the photo at the end of this post is actually our land. There may be more written about this in the future!

arne carlos blanket

The first blanket is underway

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

This book has made me a widow!

A long while back I invited you to enter Mr Chen’s Emporium.  This time I did not have to wait several months and need to get sick to read the sequel!  Though on this occasion I purchased the book in Australia, and it wasn’t until I was home in NZ on the west coast for Christmas that I got to partake in “The Jade Widow” by Deborah O’Brien.  This may not mean anything to most people, but that previous sentence indicates that I made room for the book in my luggage, which is no mean feat when travelling with a small child for whom you share your suitcase with!

I really did enjoy the book, though I was a touch saddened that it did not have that flick between the past and present.  But what really impressed me, but at the same time made me go “oh no” was the clear statement that there would be no sequel – when you have fallen in love with these characters and want to know more.  Widowed just like that!  What a bold move – that says something about the author to me.  That I can draw the line, on a loved and may be even an easier path, and choose a new one.  Brave, and I like that.  The author has a new book out.  I must get to that in due course.

While I never seem to be able to quite make the time I would like, to indulge my once constant reading habit, and consequently my book acquisition tendencies have also followed suit, downwards, I have not entirely stopped.  And given my loose west coast of NZ theme – ok single thread! – running through the short list of books I have actually managed to read, I am continuing that theme.  So with that loose west coast connection in the little stash beside my bed is “The Luminaries” – I figured I have to support a NZ writer, even if she has won the Man Booker prize and needs no support from me!  For those that don’t know, the book is set on the west coast of NZ.

Jade Widow Luminaries

And I missed May too!

Slippage, just like April!  So a blog goal of two for June.  Here is the first.

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself”

I love this.  How often do we hold ourselves back from doing what we really want to? Often thinking that all is out of our control.  Or we can’t possibly do this or that, sometimes matters small like I can’t possibly wear that colour lipstick to matters large like I can’t give up this job, what will I do?

 

I am even more reminded of this tendency as the mum of a young child.  Her enthusiasm and utter lack of boundaries is lush.  Where we often resort to learned habits or do not want to rock the boat.  I say break down those self made fences.

After I finished Uni I was somewhat reluctant to make the next big step, meandering a little, but then a wall breaking moment presented itself and I grabbed it with two hands, and in that moment booked a one-way ticket from NZ to the UK departing 10 weeks later.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  I was fairly certain I wanted to continue my Chemistry path, and my back up thinking was if the worst came to the worst I could work in a pub like all other Kiwis and Aussies!  Would I make the same choice now?  Looking back I was incredibly brave.  Now life has changed, I have an other half and a young girl of two to consider.  But what I need to remind myself of is that brave girl still exists, and I have.  We have just made a purchase of land in another country.  The time frame here is a bit different, years rather than weeks.  But at some as yet to be determined point in the future all I know is I won’t be doing what I do now, and that is exciting beyond measure.

And what happened in that 10 weeks all those years ago – well I organised a post-doc at Imperial College in London, and I never looked back.  The first step is always the hardest. What are your moments and stories?

You-are-confined-only-by-the-walls-you-build-yourself

Lipstick images from: http://weddingseve.com/makeup/get-shinny-glossy-colorful-lipstick-ideas-for-your-lips.php

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.

Online passport application, who knew?

Well I am just managing to squeak in a second post before the month comes to an end, and its not even December!  I am tempted to ask for more hours in the day for Christmas, however I would probably just fill them with more chores and not me time which is what I really want, time to do the stuff I want to do, not the stuff I have to do.

So a completely off topic start.  Now to topic.  What I had not been aware of and which I am quite excited about is that I come from the country that had implemented the first on line passport application process.  Yay New Zealand!  Now it is still entirely rubbish that we only have five year passports (that’s a whole other story). But as someone who has just applied to renew her passport online, and now received it by courier I am excited.  And for once it costs less to do it online than to do it on paper.  In contrast to buying bloody movie tickets (and others) online where you are doing all the work and paying for the privilege.  In August this year 100,000 folk have already traversed this path, so in some ways I am already a late adopter. It is great to see technology delivering on that age old paperless society prediction. Good on ya NZ!

NZ passport