Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In which I have been thinking!

I've been thinking - never a good sign, my DH would say! may, or may not, know that New Zealand has 3 official languages - English, Maori and sign language (I think there's a "proper" name for this but it escapes me at the moment). Of course, I am fluent in English but I only know a few words in Maori (and probably murder the pronunciation!) and even less in sign language. Here in the South Island there doesn't seem much need to know much more Maori than this.

What I was thinking about was last year our daughter was on a European tour and visited the New Zealand memorial at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. There were four New Zealanders on the tour, including her. As is normal in these tours, they stood at the memorial and sang the National Anthem (God Defend New Zealand). The three guys were from the North Island and only knew the Maori lyrics while our daughter only knew (more or less) the English version. I thought that this was a little sad on both sides.

(image courtesy of my daughter!)

I like to think of myself as being a fairly patriotic Kiwi. I was brought up with Anzac Day parades where our whole school would assemble in the school grounds and march down to the memorial about 200m down the road from the schoo. Each class would place a wreath on the memorial and listen to the trumpet playing the Last Post. We would also sing the National Anthem. Our National Anthem was also sung at assembly each week. I'm not certain this was normal, even in my generation, as I know that a lot of my peers would have no idea of the words to God Defend New Zealand.

However, my thinking brought me to the conclusion that I need to learn the Maori words to our Anthem so I have challenged myself to learn them. By when? Not sure, but learn them I will!

I have been making some progress lately on my knitting. Of course, not the knitting I should be doing ( my DH's jersey), or the knitting I had started a while ago (my Cul-de-Sac vest) but the lacy, frothy little Mystery (aka MS4) I began at the beginning of the month. Ta da...

In reality, the colour is not quite so green and a little lighter. I am really pleased with it even though I think I should have gone down in needle size. I have never before made anything quite so lacy or using such a fine yarn and am rather enjoying it. Progress has been made since these photos were taken and I have almost finshed clue 3 (am at row 120 of 132). The images here show me at about row 30-something. The spinning of the merino/soy silk is also progressing slowly but I won't bore you with a photo more brown yarn on a bobbin.

Spring is warming up and the equinoxal (is that a word?) winds are here, although not nearly as strong as were forecast. The weather this week has been absolutely beautiful - is it tempting fate to say this? Long may the good weather last, though. The weather has made me think of other things, as well, such as another raised bed in the vegetable garden. DH's has some half-rounds he doesn't know what to do with. Told me they were in the way of where he is planning on putting next year's firewood. To me, half rounds = raised bed. Maybe I can sweet-talk him into making it for me? Time will tell!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Sometimes when life isn't goign the way you really want it to (I've got a nasty cold at the moment), someone comes along and does something really nice.

First up, yesterday a friend gave me a little posy of flowers! So sweet, and unexpected. It started out as a joke (I managed to "save" her from an awkward encounter of the felting kind) but she then turned around and presented me with a lovely orchid. Don't you love having friends like that? I sure do and I really appreciate her, too.

Then, today I clicked on Knifty Red's blog and found that she had awarded me this lovely blue ribbon! After a night with not a lot of sleep and the start of a day where you don't want to do too much in case your head does actually explode instead of only threatening it, this was such a nice surprise. Thanks, Kris!

As usual, this award comes with a few simple rules:

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Ad a link to the person who gave you the award.
  3. Nominate at least 4 others.
  4. Leave a comment on their blog so they can pass it on.

So, without further ado I would like to nominate the following blogs for this award:

  1. Bossy Little Dog - I may seem like a lurker on this blog but I really can relate to some of what she is going through
  2. Knit, knit, frog - a fellow New Zealander but one who really thinks about her knitting (and spinning) and keeps striving to improve her work - even though I think her work is pretty darn near perfect as it is!
  3. Kaylen's Blog - how cute can a little girl be! It is such a pleasure, and a privilege, to be able to watch this little one as she makes her way through life's journeys.
  4. Spinning Fishwife - this time a blog from Scotland! Spinning, knitting and general family life - always something interesting going on.

There you have it - so many others are deserving of this reward, too. I'm not sure how others feel when they read the blogs of people they have never met, nor are ever likely to. I know that I often feel a little as if I am eavesdropping on their lives but, I guess, that is blogdom for you.

Knitting and, occasionally, spinning is making some progress. Slow, but progress nevertheless. I will show you one day.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"...Show me a garden that's bursting into life."

No prizes for guessing where that quote comes from but maybe someone knows? Yes, Spring is officially here although I maintain it was here two or three weeks ago. I have seen daffodils, hebe, camellias, primulas and muscari flowering in my extremely unkempt garden (I would love to be a real gardener but can't seem to "get into it"!) as well as blossom on other people's trees. The weeds are growing, too, so the garden really is bursting into life now.

Instead of getting the garden tamed, my spinning wheel has been busy recently and I think that I have finally spun and 3-plied enough of the Gotland to knit a jersey for my DearlyBeloved for his birthday in late November. If you can see the figure on the scale in the photo you will see that the yarn weighs 1.240kg - enough, surely?

On the knitting front, the Cul-de-Sac vest is slowly making progress and I am ready to decrease at the armhole (armscye?). I've been lazy, recently (when am I not?), and haven't been working on it every day/night but just when I feel like it, hence my lack of real progress. I have lengthened the side from the pattern as I don't particularly like my garments to be too short but I still think I will be happier wearing it over a longer shirt. Time will tell.

Now that I have finished the spinning for the Gotland jersey I am carrying on with the merino/soy silk blend I was spinning ages ago. I am spinning it fairly fine so it, too, seems interminable. I have 100gm of this and have spun up about 47gm (I weighed it to make sure it was divided evenly into two - there is much more on the bobbin than the photo shows).

While spinning yesterday I had a thought about what I could do with it (are you like that, spin something with nothing particular in mind?). I'm not sure, yet, but I have been reading Nancy Bush's Folk Knitting in Estonia (one of my "hurt book" purchases from Interweave recently) and have been inspired by some of her patterns. Maybe this will be a little fine, though. Only time, and finishing the yarn, will tell. I must say, though, that I really have enjoyed reading this book. Some of the cast ons are quite attractive and I really like the braiding. Such a pity that our weather doesn't really require the wearing of mittens very often.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who loves a Mystery?

No, not books, knitting! Here's a little hint of a Mystery I knitted recently...

Pretty, no, although the knitting isn't my best. This is knit in Zephyr laceweight with some locally bought beads I was trying out. They don't show up too well on here but the bottom line are the turquoise beads which I think I will include in the article I will make. They add a lovely sparkle! I used 3.5mm Knitpicks Options to knit this piece but found the nickel coating rather slippery for this fine yarn. An email to Morag (with an exchange of just a few $) should solve this problem as my Harmony tips arrived by courier a few days ago. I will whip up another sample to try the needles out and I will be all ready to cast on my Mystery on Sept 6, or thereabouts.

Cul-de-Sac is coming along, albeit rather slowly. I am up past the point I got to at the last try and I think it will fit much better. Thank goodness as I wasn't prepared to try again. There's only so much nonsense I will take from yarn/patterns!

The carding, and spinning, of the eternal Gotland is also coming along. One more bobbin and I will be ready to ply what I hope will be the last skein I will need. I will then put all the completed skein in a nice warm, soapy bath (I am spinning in the grease, after all. Mind you I always wash my skeins after spinning to set the twist.) and put them on the washing line to dry (dependent on the weather, of course, but we have been having some milder, sunny days lately in between the drizzly ones. Spring is here, folks!!). I will then be able to assess better how much yarn I have compared to how I will need for D's jersey. Maybe I will then be able to cast on yet another WIP.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What? It's August already?

No apologies for my long absence - I'm here and that is all that matters.

Some days/weeks/months I just don't feel like talking and this last month has been one of them. I think this whole winter has been like that for me. But today has been a beautifully warm, sunny Spring day so here I am!

(hmm...that's bad, I had to read my own blog to see where I was up to!) Our new log burner is in and, when the wood is dry and not still a little damp from the rain, works very well. Maybe too well at times! I am pleased with it.

Remember the little lacy sleeveless vest I was making for the Fleece Challenge? Once the buttons were on it winged its way up to the North Island to go in the display. Fortunately, it wasn't chosen for the suitcase (a little pair of felted booties made by another club member was, though. A great honourf or both her as well as the club) so it was able to come back to me and was given to T, our youngest grandgirl. It only just fits her, though. Wow, has she been doing some growing lately just like the proverbial weed!

Now that the corriedale has been finished I've been able to get back into spinning the neverendingly-grey Gotland for my husband's jersey. His birthday is fast approaching (late November) so, knowing how slow I can be at knitting as well, can I make it? Stay tuned. (No photos, I think you would get as bored as I've been.)

But what is this we see here?

In case you don't recognise it, this is the latest addition to my collection of wheels. It's a double-drive Wing. After bringing it home, I took it apart and stripped off the old finish and rubbed in Betty Kelly's finishing oil recipe which I read, some time ago on Stella's blog but which totally eludes me now (if you find it please let me know the link!). I am quite happy with how the wheel looks (as usual, my photo doesn't really do it justice) as well as how it spins. I really think that it has hardly ever been used as there is absolutely no wear on the flyer at all. In fact, I really had to sand the bobbin shaft back a lot before any of the bobbins would turn freely. There will be some serious spinning with this wheel sometime in my future.

Knitting? Yes, I have done a little. But only a little. Some time ago I went to the mill at Milton and bought two hanks of a charcoal-coloured lambswool/hemp blend with which to make a sleeveless vest. Well, I started by knitting the required swatch, counted the stitches and searched for a suitable pattern. I chose Elspeth Lavold's Cul-de-Sac as seen here and began.

This is as far as I got before I realised, ah...I know I'm not small but...! Out came the measuring tape and yes, it was more than a few centimetres too wide! Bother. So, I recalculated and have started again.

When things like that happen what do you do? Do you start over with all the vim and verve you had to begin with? Or do you feel the shine go off the item and start over but this time at a snail's pace? Me, I'm the latter I'm afraid.

OTHER THINGS are also going on in my life which seem to have sapped any creative energy I once possessed. I won't go into them at the moment. One day, though. Maybe.

But, for now, that's all folks!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

What Have I Been Up To Lately?

Long time, no see - I know but I haven't been entirely unproductive as you can see!

This top was made for the Fleece Challenge for the Creative Fibre Festival 2008. This year the Challenge was using Corriedale fleece. Our local spinning group decided to take part making baby wear as Corriedale is a fairly fine wool.

Washing the fleece was quite a challenge in itself. Even using very hot water I was unable to get it totally clean - it still felt slightly waxy but went through the drum carder ok. Spinning was fun but rather interminable (I wanted to get onto MY spinning!). I spun the yarn fairly fine and navajo plied it. The final yarn was about a 4 ply with some variations.

White yarn looked rather drab so I put it in the dyepot. Out came a medium-pale pink, slightly darker than I had in mind but still pretty. Because the yarn had been simmered in the dyepot it had also lost that slightly sticky feel.

As I only had 82 grams I felt a sleeveless top would be an ideal item to knit. I had a Margaret Stove pattern (has a singlet pattern I have used in the past as well) which I felt would be suitable. I adjusted the number of stitches as her pattern required 2 or 3 ply yarn. All went well and I finally ended up with this sweet little top! Mind you, it did take a lot longer than I had anticipated.

Gotta go now - we're (read that as D - I'm not silly!) taking down some ugly wallboard in our lounge in readiness for the builder coming to help us put in a new log burner to replace our dud pellet fire. It is now time to clean up before getting tea ready. Anyone who has been through small remodeling jobs in their homes will know what sort of mess my lounge is in and what will be needed to make it habitable once more! So 'bye for now!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mosaic Me Game

Just a short one today that I thought you may enjoy - I pinched this idea from Knifty Red.

If you feel like joining in the fun, go ahead!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So, what has been happening lately?

Greetings on this rather cool, cloudy late autumn day! It has been rather a long, long time since I last posted - no excuse so I won't give one.

A lot has been happening chez Roselea Fibres. In a nutshell - Grandgirls have visited and gone home (a lovely time had by all!), new furniture has arrived and been used (I like laz-y-boy armchairs!) and new needles and yarns have been purchased (I love Knitpicks needles - thanks Vintage Purls!!) and received (many thanks, Stella!). I have also gone to play with other like-minded individuals at a knitting camp held at Waikouaiti (if you can't pronounce it I'm sure you're not alone! It is usually called Wack-a-white - spelled phonetically) as well as an Open Day of the spinning group at Milton.

During the school holidays (nearly a month ago now, yikes!) I had a lovely visit from Stella. Not only did she bring herself (which is wonderful enough alone) but she came bearing a gift! A beautifully soft, hand dyed skein of sock yarn (sadly, no photo at this point in time - I am having trouble with my camera batteries. They don't seem to be holding their charge; maybe it is time for me to buy new ones.) which, if you would really like to see it (and I would encourage you to do so as it is lovely!!) you can go here. My skein is the colour "Violet Beauregarde". Totally me! It was really great spending time getting to know Stella a little more.

As it was the school holidays, and kindy kids have holidays just like the bigger kids do, it was time for us to have our two older grandgirls for a few days. (Unfortunately, it seems that I am not a good Grandma and needed to be reminded of this requirement!) We had fun going to the park to play on the swings and slide, kick our way through the fallen leaves and study the chestnuts and acorns laying on the ground underneath the trees. Crayons and paper were retrieved from their hiding palce in the cupboard and pictures were drawn. Books, from a previous childhood, were read while snuggled up in warm beds after lavender-scented bubble baths. Corn-on-the-cob and carrots freshly picked from Grandma's vege garden were eaten for dinner. Toys and sleeping bags were dragged out to the little tent Grandad had erected on the back lawn. Many hugs and cuddles were exchanged with little voices whispering "I love you". Good times to be treasured forever!

Early this month I packed up the car and headed south to the little township of Waikouaiti. I had been invited to join some Dunedin ladies on their annual "knitting camp" - this year to study twined (or two-end) knitting. Unfortunately, Saturday saw me with a really nasty migraine which totally had my head in a fog when it came to "thinking knitting". I started on my mitten but knew I had made mistakes. Twined knitting, while not technically difficult, does involve some manual dexterity and a more agile brain than mine was that day! Not to worry. I woke on Sunday morning like a new person and after a swift shower in rather frigid conditions (the sign in the bathroom read - "windows must be left open at all times for ventilation purposes". Come on, people, have you not heard of exhaust fans? This was late autumn and two of the Dunedin ladies didn't make it to the camp because of snow and rain and hail!) I was all set to cast off my pathetic little piece of twined knitting beginnings and cast on afresh. Which I did with a lot more success than the previous day.

I rather like the edging of little arrow shapes. It doesn't seem to curl, either, which could be rather useful in "normal" knitting. By the way, twined knitting historically uses Z-twisted yarn. I wasn't sure if I would have any yarn like this in my stash but a careful search revealed quite an amount. I was pleasantly surprised. This yarn was some I had bought at the mill in Milton. It's a soft merino/angora blend which I, rather unsuccessfully in my opinion, dyed and then overdyed as I didn't approve of the uneven dyeing of my first attempt. In hindsight, I should have left it as it became even more unevenly the second time around! Oh well, I guess it now has "character"!

I think this photo shows up the "crook stitches" in the pattern a little better. These are purl stitches carried out using one yarn held in the front of the work while the second yarn is held in the back and is used for the knit stitches in between the purl ones. The "stocking stitch" background is made with both yarns held in the back. This is the sum-total of my efforts on Sunday - nobody claimed that twined knitting is fast!

This rather poor shot is of the back side of the knitting. You may be able to make out the twisted nature of the back. It looks as it it would be stiff but this is not the case - it is firm but has a surprising amount of give. It is quite thick also, as two yarns are involved, making it a good choice for mittens which are likely to receive a fair bit of wear.

Other knitting has been carried out over the last few weeks also - a call for baby mittens for our youngest grandgirl who tended to wriggle around in her sleep throwing her arms out, her hands getting cold in the process. Of course, if a knitter receives a call like that what is she to do? Take up her needles and knit, of course! Balls of leftover baby yarn were retrieved from the stash and knitted up into three pairs of mittens - a pale pink garter stitch pair, a turquoise pair with a lace cuff and white edging and a pair of white mittens with a feather and fan cuff. They didn't take very long to knit and are now gracing the little hands of their tiny recipient (who is growing like the proverbial weed!).

Spinning has also featured recently - some corriedale fleece which I have washed and drum carded and am now spinning at about 32 wpi. I will navajo ply this and knit it into something "for a baby". This is part of a fleece challenge our local spinning group is taking part in. I quite like this wool but am really finding it a pain to spin as I keep thinking of all the things I want to be spinning for me! It will get done, though, and then it will be back onto the Gotland wool I started so long ago.

Time for me to start getting tea prepared so 'bye until next time!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I am from...

Reading Shirley's blog (about a month ago - yes, I am slow!) I was moved by her (and those she linked to) posting on where she came from. Childhood memories. Generations past. Where am I from? Let me tell you...

I am from working class roots with smatterings of middle class generations ago. I am from English immigrants (who were originally from Europe via Ireland) coming to New Zealand for a better life for their family. I am from a love story begun on an immigrant ship on the stormy seas. I am from the music played by the talented fingers of a great-grandfather I never knew.

I am from Papa who came home safely from war. I am from gardeners who toiled morning and night to feed their growing families.

I am from men not afraid of sweat so their families could eat. I am from women who plied needles and thread to clothe their children. I am from Grandma who taught me the skills of embroidery - and who tried, in vain, to get me to drink tea.

I am from peppermints - hidden by Papa when he was baby sitting. I am from the peas I helped Grandma shell for dinner. I am from gladioli and carnations, allysum and wallflowers, violets and dusty millers grown by Papa for their beauty, not for their usefulness.

I am from high hedges and tin fences, concrete yard and grassy lawns. I am from wooden floors and bedside mats and Dad never finishing the decorating "improvements" he started. I am from the fire crackling in the grate with the sofa pulled up close to keep us cosy on cold winter's nights. I am from bread speared on a long "no 8 wire" fork and toasted over the fire.

I am from "Listen with Mother" on the big radio which stood on the floor and stories on Sunday mornings on the transistor radio listened to while still tucked up in bed, eating the few little lollies left by Mum by my bedside.

I am from my sister's hand-me-down clothes made from Mum's dresses. I am from my first new frock, the one Uncle Phil gave me for Christmas when I was four and the cuddly teddy he gave me when I was born - from a black and white toy police car with a red light on top and a little toy organ which ran on batteries.

I am from climbing the neighbour's huge apple tree with the neighbour's youngest son. I am from crying while watching "Lassie" on another neighbour's tv. I am from the old Plymouth car where I stood behind the front seat so I could see out, or slept on the back seat with my sister on the long drive home from Christchurch.

I am from dogs - our Chloe and Uncle Selby's Jill who let me ride on her back (NOT Aunty Betty's - Binks always growled at me!). I am from Uncle Selby's trial dogs, dogs I was not allowed to touch but only to watch from my perch on the old tin fence. From his horses with their soft lips nuzzling my hand for the sweet grass I gave them.

I am from red cardigans and black gymfrock, red and black striped tie and white shirt. I am from school milk, drunk through yellow paper straws. I am from padder tennis bats and monkey bars with sharp gravel beneath. I am from assemblies, and marching, school choirs and latin roots. I am from ANZAC parades - marching in lines to the memorial, the laying of wreaths and the tears of Taps.

I am from long summers in borrowed caravans, camping at the lake too icy-cold to swim in. I am from fishing and shooting at targets in the dusty hall and following Dad around the golf course pulling his trundler. I am from riding on my bike to the baths with friends on Saturdays and eating cinnamon sticks or aniseed wheels or TT2s on the way home.

I am from books and knitting needles - and curling up in a chair with both at the same time. I am from Dollar Scholar, man on the moon and watching Princess Anne's wedding on our new colour tv with all the neighbours crowded in the room.

I am from bad times and good times. I am ME!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Finished Objects, New Project and Samples!

It's high time I posted again so here goes:

I have been busy "doing" stuff since I last wrote so here is a little insight into what has been going on in my life recently - the knitting part, at least!

Yes, the Tomten Jacket is finished at last! It was sitting around for several weeks until I finally picked it up again and wove in the threads and sewed on the buttons. No photos of it on little T but there is a closeup of the buttons I put on. Suitably cute for a little one, no?

A few weeks ago I needed a small project to work on in the car so I looked around in my stash and came up with a couple of balls of Sock It To Me yarn I bought from Elann a couple of years ago. Kiwi knitters will realise that there is a real shortage of nicely coloured sock yarn in our LYS's, although the selection is a little better now than it was. This was why I bought some sock yarn from Elann - good price and pretty colours! It is maybe not quite as soft as Opal yarn but maybe it washes up softer. I'm not sure, yet, as the only socks I have made from the skeins I bought were gifted. This is the first pair I have made for me from them.

I am knitting these socks using the Wildflower Socks pattern from Fawn Pea. I quite like it in the colour I'm using but I think if I knit this pattern again I would knit the socks toe up instead of cuff down - I like the little "flower" pattern better that way! Still cute, though. A closer look at the pattern is below although I still don't think you can see the pattern clearly. Sorry!

I have also made another pair of Maine Morning Mitts from Clara Parkes' book A Knitters Book of Yarn. A nice, easy pattern when you need a gift quickly. Which is what I knitted these for. A gift for a friend. She likes them!

So she should, too! These were made in Cleckheaton Vintage Twist which is a very softly spun, and plied, 100% woollen yarn. One ply is spun in a series of colours and the other in one co-ordinating colour - very easy to emulate for spinners. It knitted up very softly but I did have to be careful. I normally use a long tail cast on with my thumb, a very easy and versatile cast on. However, this cast on slightly untwists yarns which have been plied Z as this yarn has been. (I have just had a closer look at the yarn and it seems that it has been both spun and plied Z! No wonder it is tender!) Because of the very soft spin, the yarn began to untwist and drift apart, not what you want for a cast on edge. When I discovered this, I got out a crochet hook and cast on over the needle with that (like a provisional cast on), very carefully. It worked and, as I had done it loosely, it was a nice stretchy edge. I also used two circs to make these but only one at a time as I only had one ball and didn't want to tie myself into knots using both ends at once. I was very happy with the resulting mitts.

Spinning has also been carried out recently as our group is taking part in the Creative Fibre fleece challenge this year. The fleece being showcased in 2008 is Corriedale. Our group was given a 2.5kg fleece to use for the challenge. A bit more than we had anticipated (we were thinking of making a couple of items of babies clothing) but it seems we are the only group in our region to participate so we got the whole fleece!

I have washed about half the fleece so far. Some members may prefer to work with the wool in its greasy state so I won't do the whole lot. I'm not sure if that is a good idea, though, as it may be too much like merino for that. As it is, I think it really needs another washing as it still feels a little, well, not squeaky clean! I always wash the yarn when it has been spun up, so it isn't a problem for me so I'm not going to worry too much about it.

I have prepared and spun up a couple of samples so far and would like to get one more done before the next meeting on Thursday. The first sample I prepared using my Majacraft minicombs and spun the wool in a 2 ply worsted style. The last bit on the bobbin I navajo-piled. This sample (photos next time, maybe) is soft and controlled-looking. Looks how I expected it too.

The second sample I prepared on my hand carders and spun up using a long-draw woolen style (well, as close as I could get. I'm not too comfortable with this style, yet.). It has come out beautifully soft and puffy but, perhaps, could have had a little more twist both in the singles and in the plying.

I would also like to try carding a little on the drum carder and see if there is any difference between this preparation and the hand cards. There's nothing like playing around like this to put off the decisions of what I will actually make! But it is fun, and a great learning experience.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Look What the Postman Brought Me!

Yay! I like the postman - sometimes. Saturday was a good day for me as the postman brought me a present - to me, from me! I do like that kind as you know that you will like what you get. And I DID like what I got!

This is what I found when I opened the box. Not just the book I had ordered from Marsha White at the Needle Arts Book Shop (all wrapped carefully in brown paper and tied with pretty ribbons!), but also a "from the library of..." sticker as well as a little surprise packet! What was in it? See here...

A little sample skein of Grand Merino - 100% merino wool mde by Puppy Yarns in a lovely dark, chocolatey brown. Soft, too.

And the book? Guernsey and Aran Sweaters. All in Japanese but the graphs have all the info I need. I think. It is a beautiful book with simply gorgeous photographs of the garments. Unusual to see writeups of the history of guernsey and aran sweaters in Japanese!

If you are looking for needle art-type books, I would recommend that you try Marsha's site. I'm not affiliated - just a very happy customer passing on a recommendation!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What have I been up to?

Five weeks since my last posting! Oh, my, sure has been a long time. But I'm back again. I have been so busy recently with one thing and another - a new granddaughter, D having an angioplasty, K leaving to go back to Britain for another nine months plus a myriad of other relatively normal happenings. My poor head has been spinning (unlike my hands, unfortunately - nil to show in that respect!)!

Little T is doing very well as are her Mum and Dad. She sleeps well (usually) and is putting on weight as any good little baby ought to. We have seen her several times but not really as much as I would like. Unfortunately, too much was happening in my life which I could not put off for me to go up there and help out. T's Dad doesn't go to work until mid-afternoon so he is able to help out a fair bit.

My husband, D, had an appointment at Christchurch hospital for an angioplasty (not his heart but the artery to his left leg). After waiting about 8 hours (he was REALLY hungry by then as he hadn't had anything to eat since the previous night) we were finally told that he would have to come back again the following week. (They fed him before we left, thank goodness!) Timaru hospital hadn't sent up his CT films and they weren't coming through by email (technology is not always what it is cracked up to be!). As he was able to go in first thing the following week, we stayed the night in a motel. Christchurch is about 2 1/2 hours away from where we live - to far to get there, and find a park, by 8 am! For whatever reason, he didn't get the procedure done until nearly lunchtime and then spent the next four hours lying completely still on his bed. An hour of sitting up followed this and then we were allowed to leave - but not to go home. No, we had to spend yet another night in Christchurch in case something happened. Nice motel this time, though!

Can you guess what I was doing all this time? Yep, knitting, of course! During the first visit I was knitting a little Tomten jacket to fit Taylor for her first winter. I was using some leftover yarn from a project a couple of years ago BUT did I have enough? I knitted the body and started the hood. Suspicious, I left the hood stitches on some waste yarn and took stock of what was left. No, definitely not enough to even complete the sleeves. I have looked in various yarn shops since then but I believe that Naturally are not making this yarn (Lollipop - a 10ply boucle - 95%merino 5 %nylon) any more. Sad, as it is really cuddly. But I may be able to turn this into a little sleeveless jacket so my time and effort won't be wasted.

During the second time in the hospital I knitted a good portion of a second Tomten jacket.

This time I am using a mauve-coloured yarn from Naturally - Buttons. Quite cute as it has a tweed look about it. I had a lot of trouble finding a solid yarn to use for the trim but I finally found a purple acrylic (yes, I don't like acrylic much, either, but needs must!) which looks quite good with it. I think I made a booboo in the hood, though, as it appears fairly short. I may unfo the grafted seam and reknit this before sewing the sleeve seams and picking up for the band. This will be a four-ridge garter band with buttonholes as I don't like sewing zips in knits.

Meanwhile, I have started a pair of fingerless mitts using a free pattern from Jody Pirrello - Natalya.

For these, I am using some lovely soft angora/merino yarn I bought from Quality Yarns in Milton, Otago. I think they will be gorgeously warm and soft for winter!

And speaking of Milton...we took a trip down to Dunedin a few weeks ago (don't ask me when, it was during the last month - who know's dates anymore!) where I met up with Stella of Knit,knit,frog fame. We had a lovely time over afternoon tea getting to know each other a little better (she even had a present for little T - a bright green bib, so cute!) and showing her some of my loot from Milton. Yes, I'm getting to Milton! As Dunedin is only about 50 minutes from Milton, D and I drove down there to visit the mill shop. Lots of lovely bally of yarn here for really low prices! Well worth the drive. I blush when I think of how much I spent there that day. My, how even low prices add up! But I did bring home quite a haul - 2 kg of perendale sliver, a couple of hanks of undyed 8 ply perendale yarn (for dyeing), some 8 ply 40% possum/60% wool yarn destined to be a jersey for D (one day!), some undyed 4 ply 20%angora/80%merino which I may dye and use for the grandgirls someday and also some silver 8 ply 100% wool which I may overdye for moi. But, I also bought 2 hanks of this...

...a lovely, soft 8 ply yarn which is a blend of 80% lambswool/20% hemp in a tweedy charcoal. I'm thinking of a sleeveless vest for me. Hopefully with a few cables or some textured stitches. Not sure yet. I told you there was quite a haul! On the way back to Dunedin we stopped off at Lake Waihola for some lunch. A lovely spot for a picnic.

The lake is fairly shallow all over I believe and quite a popular spot in the summer holidays. While we were there we watched a small microlite-type plane land on the water then take off and fly around for a bit before landing on the water again. Rather fun!

Since all this has been happening, we have been up to Christchurch yet again (told you I've been busy) - this time to take K to the airport for her trip back to Britain. She'll be overseas for about 9 months before coming home again - hopefully for good this time! Unfortunately her journey back to Britain was not terribly smooth this time around. She slipped in the tunnel leading to the plane to take her to Auckland and scraped her elbow badly. It turns out that Air New Zealand planes (even large 777's as this was) don't have a proper first aid kit! They could only find two little bandaids, one being a finger one!

She then had trouble with the flight to LA and was told it didn't exist. It seems that although it was techniquely an American Airlines flight, the plane was a Qantas one (great food, K says!) which normally flies through Brisbane but was going through Auckland this time. Confusing. Once in LAX, K freshened up and had a sleep on the floor before boarding her British Airways flight to London Heathrow. With her bag safely checked in she got on the plane and had quite a pleasant journey in a plane which had several empty seats. On arrival at Heathrow she waited for her bag. And waited, and waited bag! About 20 other passengers were in the same plight some with connecting flights to worry about. BA have been very unhelpful and very unapologetic over the whole business. They gave K a few little toiletries (not fullsize) to help tide her over. Ha! Six days (and one canned interview because of not having suitable clothing) later and her bag still hasn't arrived! British Airways suck - but, from what I can gather from other people's experiences, so do most other airlines. Not good at all.

Anyway, that is some of what I have been up to recently. Told you I had been busy!

Monday, February 11, 2008


Finally, after a long and nail-biting wait, I would like to introduce Taylor Emily ---- born on Saturday, 9 February 2008 weighing in at 6lb 12oz.

The top photo is of Taylor when she was just a few hours old. The second one is of her safe in Daddy's arms the following day.

Her adoring Grandma thinks she is absolutely gorgeous!

As she was born by C-section her mum, R, will need a lot of care over the next 6 weeks. R's mother is taking 4 weeks off to help out and it seems like I will be helping (full-time live-in as they live 1 1/2 hours drive away) out the following two weeks so I will be getting to know this cute little one pretty well.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


An air of expectancy has been hovering over our home during the past two weeks and is now gripping us all with its tenacious hold. Every time a cell phone announces an incoming text or call everyone looks up with questioning eyes. "Is it the time, yet?" And the disappointingly negative reply is met with sighs.

The reason for our fixation? Our youngest son and his partner are expecting our third grandchild who was supposed, according to modern technology, to have made an appearance two weeks ago! But, like all babies, this one has her own timetable. An induction was set for this morning, however all the midwives in the small local-to-them hospital are ill today. Another appointment for induction has been made for tomorrow at the city hospital an hour away (two and a half hours from us). At the examination this morning, R was 2 cm dilated and had a contraction, unfelt by her, while attached to the monitor so maybe today will be the day after all. Meanwhile, we all go through the motions of the day hoping to hear the good news at any time.

Knitting? Yes, I have two FOs to report as well as another started. Pictures? No time right now, next time.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Excitement in the Roselea Household!

Another finished pair of mitts - this time another pair of Fetching. A friend's birthday was coming up and I wanted to make something for her. We had agreed not to give each other Christmas presents (cost, etc) but she didn't say anything about a birthday present! I used a ball of wool I had already had in my stash for quite some time so I didn't think she would be able to complain too much!

As you can see the wool I used is an 80/20 blend on merino and possum fur in DK weight from Furlana. The colour is a dark aubergine not too different from the photo above (on my monitor!). It is so beautifully soft and very warm. My friend lives on a small farm and looks after the stock very diligently while her husband works. In winter she is often outside checking on the sheep as they are lambing, shifting the electric fence, feeding out etc. I would imagine her hands would get quite cold so I thought she might appreciate these mitts. Perhaps not very hardwearing but very warm.

You may notice that I extended the top of the mitts a little by putting in an extra cable. I also cast off normally instead of using the picot cast off as is written in the pattern. I wanted the top to be a little closer fitting. It was better, although still not perfect, but maybe they will fit my friend better than me as she has larger hands than I.

I have also been washing up some of the kilo of Hampshire Down fleece I bought recently.

This wool will be quite a challenge to me as the staple length is only about 5cm! I have been hand carding this, on my Ashford fine handcarders, into rolags which I will eventually spin woollen using the long-draw method. I have only played around spinning like this and, combined with the short staple, I have this feeling that no-one will want to be around when I try it out! Or maybe I won't want to try it when anyone else is around would be fairer to say. I have only spun cotton once and I'm not in a hurry to try it again. The one rolag of this wool that I played around with reminded me very much of that! I needed a lot of twist to keep the thread from breaking. I am used to not putting in a lot of twist. As I said before -a challenge!

But my biggest excitement this week is that my darling daughter is arriving home from Britain tomorrow morning!!! One year to the day that she left to go on her big OE. We will be leaving here reasonably early (7.30-8pm) to get up to Christchurch in time to see her plane land. I can't wait! She doesn't intend staying longer than about 6 weeks (sigh!) but it will be still be good to have her home again. To keep up her cash-flow she intends working while she is here so it won't be non-stop visiting but it will be enough. A family dinner is on the cards sometime too, the first time we will have all been together since Christmas 2006. Yes, I realise that this is not long by many family's standards but for me it is a looong time! So, all going well, there should be 11 adults and 3 children at our table soon. I think I'm crazy, I hate cooking food for a crowd!

But that is not all the excitement that is due this week. Oh, no, not by a long shot! Our third grandchild/grandgirl is due on Friday!!! Mmmm, I think my cup runneth over at the moment!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Totally Forgot!

I guess it was due to the hour being so late when I posted last night, but I totally forgot to include the photos I took of the fireworks at New Year on Caroline Bay! So here goes:

Not the best photos, I guess, but what can I say? They only lasted 10 minutes this year (last year it was 30 minutes long but I think the Bay Association is holding back some of their fireworks budget for a big bang for their 50th anniversary in two years) and it is hard to watch the fireworks at the same time as struggling to take a halfway-decent photo of them! Anyway, they were fun while they lasted and they were free! I really love fireworks, especially the really loud ones that echo around the cliffs surrounding Caroline Bay. I love thunderstorms, too, but that is another story!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Time to Catch Up

Well, this year is already almost two weeks old and I am only just writing a post now. Bad blogger, indeed! I'm sure there are a lot more like me out there who may have the time to write but don't always have the inclination. So many times I have written a post in my head only to have it flee completely the moment I get in front of the keyboard. Never mind, I am here now.

So, what has been happening? Hot weather, that is what has been happening today! Even now, at well after 10pm it is sooo hot inside - over 24C. For me, that is really quite warm. It was a lot warmer than that today, too. Outside it has cooled down but inside is a different story. A really tough day for my eldest son, his partner and our two wee grandgirls to be driving home from holiday, but they did it. They called in here on their way home and picked up their Christmas presents. Too bad D wasn't here to see them, but it was the car/truck racing this weekend. He has been looking forward to this meeting for such a long time that he couldn't miss it. We'll see the girls in just over a week when we go to the airport to pick up our daughter who is coming home from England for a month or so. (I knew there was a reason I don't have the windows open with the lights on - I was just dive-bombed by a large moth! Not my most favourite experience!)

But you aren't here to read all this drivel - you want the lowdown on what I have been doing lately. First up:

Yes, I have finally finished spinning, and plying, the coloured sliver I've been working on for months! The photo shows almost all of the kilo of the yarn which I intend knitting into a jersey for me, someday. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out but I'm hoping that it isn't too busy when knitted. No, I haven't done a sample square, yet, but I do intend to some time as I will need to experiment a little. A closeup? Of course!

The yarn isn't shiny as it seems in the photo but I think the colours aren't too far off. I was pleased to see that the plying evened out fairly well. It is always wonderful to see how a wash improves the look of the skeins.

Now that that wool is out of the way I am back working my way through the Gotland fleece I bought quite a while ago from a young, local breeder - Hamish Black of Chocolate Wool NZ. I am spinning this one up for D - I think it is time I made him another jersey. Maybe it will be ready for his birthday near the end of the year?

As this is a lovely open fleece, I am separating the locks and combing them with a metal dog comb. That's right, I am not washing this fleece! Gasp, shock, horror! It is a method which has been used by countless spinsters over the years and if it is good enough for them... Really, there is something about working with a raw fleece. (No, not the odd thistle stuck in your finger! Although that has happened to me more than once, not in this fleece. It is a particularly clean, well-carded fleece.) I rather like the feel of the lanolin on my hands and seeing it shining in the sunlight. I even like the smell of the raw wool! Shoot me, I'm a country girl at heart!

I'm not sure if the photo shows it, but the butt end of the staples are a very pale grey which gives the spun yarn a bit of a tweedy look to it. There are a few guard hairs (?) in some of the locks but I usually pull these out before I comb the lock. I'm not being too anal about it, though, as this jersey will be for a guy and will be outer wear.

As you can see my spinning here is kind of rustic-looking (let's face it, none of my spinning would be mistaken for being commercially spun) but I that is what I want for the jersey. I want it to be more every-day wear than a fine jersey for best. As this fleece is spinning up fairly fine, I am 3-plying it to make the yarn a reasonable weight. It is about a fine DK weight, I guess, when washed. There isn't a lot of bounce to the yarn when it is spun. Gotland seems to be heavy and silky, almost like mohair.

But that isn't all I have done!

Ta da! A pair of Maine Morning Mitts from Clara Parkes' book "A Knitter's Book of Yarn". I happened to have a lovely skein of Noro Silk Garden in my stash and thought this may be just the place to use it. Don't they look nice? I had bought the yarn a while ago as I wanted to see how it was dyed. Noro is too expensive, here, for me to make anything substantial with it so these little mitts were just the thing! Now I'm waiting for winter to come to try them out!

Even though summer is going really strong this year, I have cast on for another pair of Fetching mittens. This time they are for a friend, K, who is having a birthday this month. No photo, yet, as I only finished the first mitten tonight, so be patient. I'm using a skein of aubergine Furlana (80% merino 20% possum fur) I had in my stash so they are rather warm to make even though they are small. why am I giving them to someone in the middle of summer? Because K lives on a small holding which she looks after while her husband goes to work. It can get pretty cold in winter when you are outside feeding out bales of hay, shifting the electric fence or checking on lambs etc, so I thought the possum mittens might just come in handy for her.

Well, I think that is about it for now. I'll try not to leave it so long until I post again - but you never know! So I'll leave you with a little bit of whimsy I found on Robin's blog:

What Kathy Means

You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life.
You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip.
People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.
You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.
You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.
Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia.
Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.
You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.
You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.

It isn't all true but some is spot on! Strange, isn't it!