Jan 20, 2014

Ready, Set...Crochet!

Ready, Set...Crochet!
It's very summery here indeed. Yesterday it was 33'C. (91.4 F for you Americans)
With a warm sea-breeze. 
In the morning I often sit out on our deck at canopy level with the old Oak and Pohutakawa tree.

I enjoy the birds all around; sparrows fighting, 3 tuis competing with each other as who will get to the nectar-feeder first, bellbirds sneaking in, and waxeyes argueing in bunches. High up in the air are the swallows, and so now and then a seagull reminds me the sea is near.
 It is a bit like sitting in a huge bird park, except they are all free to come and go as they please.
My old cats don't bat an eyelid...

A cup of cinnamonny coffee, and a basket of colourful promise.

Thrifted bright yarns.
A-crocheting I will go.
All these yarns had just come in to an opshop the other day, and I immediately wanted them for some cheerful crochet bunting. After a bit of googling I found the right pattern for triangles, a granny-patch look it was going to be. These were very clear visual instructions, plus the whole free pattern again underneath all the photos. Thank you attic24 !

A coffee on a Summer morning. 
So I 've been making triangles, just for fun, with my coffee, or while watching some telly at night.

Cheerful Granny Triangles.
I've already made lots! How can you not smile when you see these in their happy colours.

Sorting wool .
In the meantime I've also sorted out bags of wool, all packed away since we moved here. I knew there was still a tea-chest full upstairs in the garage. 
Wrong, as it turned out: there were 2 tea-chests!

So I opened all the bags, examined the wool to see if no bugs had got to it, weighed everything, wrote the details of weight and sort of fibre onto the bags, and also wrote everything in a notebook.
 Then packed everything into large see-through plastic bins with lids for my storage room.
 I was pleasantly surprised, everything in good condition.
 And of course lots more ideas for both felting and spinning.
There was carded wool in sliver, mohair, alpacca. Raw wool in long staples, and some rare breed quantities as well. Quite a few kilograms of fibre.
Delicious! I can't wait to card some bats at my creative fibre club-rooms soon.

Jan 17, 2014

Capital and Crochet.

Crochet Fox Purse.
Before Christmas I had a small stack of magazines and 3 new books lying next to my comfy chair ; waiting for the festive days to be over and relaxing time. The anticipation is very nice!
One was a "Mollie Makes"magazine in a pack with a "Simply Crochet". Well the crochet magazine was lovely and I actually made several of the projects in it, while we were staying with our eldest in Wellington.
 I like to be able to do something with my hands while staying somewhere, and although I usually help her with chores at her student flat, she insisted this time I don't, and frankly I didn't feel like playing mother to a bunch of (young) adults.
 So I sat and crocheted from a pattern.
 Which is a challenge by itself.
The magazine has a section in the back how to do each stitch and differences between U.S.A. and U.K. names. Perfect!
Of course I had to change some things, it had sleeping eyes in the pattern. And I added fluffy yarn around the edges so the fox looked furry. 

Exactly big enough to hold my cellphone.
I also made a bracelet cuff with pink and little beads from the magazine, which I wore when going out on New Years' Eve. Our daughter took us to a bar with good live music, we played silly games while drinking gin and tonics. The bar had a retro lounge with sofas and booths to sit. It is a whole new feeling going out drinking with your daughter!
I left the bracelet for her flatmate, to say thanks for using her room, which was tidy and clean and comfy.

Treasure Hunt Showcase
Little thrifting finds from Wellington.
Not expecting to find any opshops open in Wellington around the festive days, since there is always a lack of volunteers, we were pleasantly surprised and had a good fossick around in half a dozen of them. 
We found some crochet yarns for me, a new suit for the Man(perfect fit) and a c.d.player, an illustrated Middle-Earth map and Tolkien illustrated postcards for my brother Jack ( he didn't have those yet in his collection, score!).
Above you will see a self healing cutting mat for stanley knives or rotary blades, which are not cheap when new ($1). To be used for paper cutting.
A box of mainly glass beads and retro buttons ($5). To be used for anything.
2 purple and red candle decorations ($1). To be pulled apart for miniature scenes.
2 Purple striped vintage linen napkins with embroidered black swans (50cts each). For zip pouches.
A bunch of satin and beaded flower appliques ($1). For anything.
A few metres of old red grossgrain ribbon ($0.50). For book binding or strengthening a hat edge.

As you can see opshopping turns into a really creative experience for me: I get new ideas, by looking for new uses for an item, instead of the intended purpose.
And fossicking is totally therapeutic, not to mention a family sport...

Waiting for our pies and coffee in Island Bay, Wellington.
Of course we had plenty of coffees and lunches in cafes in our 3 days away, that is one of the delights in Wellington, and the weather was brilliant. I actually got sunburned!
It was really good to see my hard working husband just relax and go with the flow.

The old shop facades there.
The area of Island Bay was very quaint, I love the old buildings. Still with all their power lines above ground.

An old fake-marble building.
This one would have been from the early 1900's. A bit posh! With its' fake pillars. The back of the building is probably wood.

Awesome mural by BMD
And there is art everywhere. An awesome mural in a parking area. Very clever painting: the "quilted" inside of the "cat" looks like crumpled fabric and the shadow of the "worm" gives it depth.
 There are several around town by these street artists.
Always something new to see in Wellington!

Jan 14, 2014

Our Garden Room.

How does our garden grow?

The Real gardener playing in his room.
The garden down the stairs on our property is a utility area, it's where we grow vegetables, have a compost heap, that is where the citrus trees are, and where the washing gets dried.
No reason why it shouldn't be nice to look at.
Especially from the kitchen window, where I always stand when waiting for the kettle to boil.

Bali stepping stones.
We saw a brilliant idea in Ubud, Bali on our last holiday there( far too long ago already now).
They had pressed large leaves into a drying concrete path. They were all different and it made the concrete very organic looking.
 I reminded my Man of this idea a little while ago when he was thinking out loud about a path, and he immediately got enthusiastic. The next morning he found a metal hoop in his garage, which had come from an old wine barrel. ( honest, it's true about holding on to things "cause-it'll-come-in-handy-one-day").
The edges were a good 10 cm deep, so excellent to use as a frame for concrete stepping stones.
 Any thinner and the stepping stone wouldn't be strong enough to step on.

Our new stepping stones, homemade!
He proceeded to dig a little into the ground, and making it level, before putting the hoop in and shoveling the concrete into it.
Of course he could only make 1 step at a time, waiting till it had set before removing the hoop and doing the next one.
 It therefore took a few weeks before they were all done. So every day 1 small jobbie.
Plenty of time to start planting liriope grasses leading to the washing line to distinguish that area from the veggie patch. And some gorgeous ferns and ferntrees.

Rounded brown gravel fills up the spaces.
When the path to the washing line was finished he spread a soft brown coloured gravel around the stones, right up to the level of the steps so that if you misstep the stone you don't twist your ankle.
 Good thinking!
 He was careful too about pacing the round path stones to our own step lengths.

Spreading dark coloured bark.
He then put a few more stepping stones towards the vegetable garden, and spread dark bark on the bare soil. It adds a nice contrast and keeps weeds at bay. And it is pretty cheap too.
It will lighten up in colour eventually, due to weathering.
Nice contrasts between the different areas.

This is what it looked like, when we came to this house at least 2 and a half years ago. It looks like grass, but it was just dense weeds and prickles. The small maple tree in the front got the chop fast, as it was already throwing shade onto the washing line.

And there we go! A Real Garden from the Real Gardener!

Jan 13, 2014

The Fairy Tree Book.

Book binding with beading.
A few months ago I went on schoolcamp for 3 days, and I looked after "my" special needs child, who, because of her wheelchair, was not able to do everything the other children could do.
We had our own adventures, and 1 of them was finding a hollow tree, which she proceeded to make into a Fairy Party Tree. It involved (quite magically) a native wood-pigeon dropping a wing feather just about in her lap, straight after she put up the "Welcome" invitation to the River fairies.
The afternoon storm that came later, -with wind, rain and lightning, which blew everything away, - all added up to a great story to be written in the weeks that followed at school.
I had made plenty of photos, and so I set about making an actual real book for her for Christmas, using her words ( she has great language skills at the age of 7 1/2) and my photos.

Holding the 2 covers together with sturdy fabric.
I used the cover of a vintage Readers' Digest book, cutting the spine away, measuring how thick the new book would be. Then glueing  a sturdy strip of fabric to replace the spine, with pretty braiding to hide the edges. On the inside I glued a large piece of fabric right across the 2 book covers with space in between to account for the spine. 
I then stitched the folded "signatures" in. 3 signatures of 3 to 4 pieces of folded paper each.
While stitching the middle signature I added bright sparkly beads on the outside of the spine.

Rooming in the Party Tree.
Here she is carefully placing the things we found at camp, bright coloured leaves and flowers, berries, acorn cups, even a birds' nest, inside the tree hollow.
It occupied her for a good hour, and a little friend helped her as well.

Part of the story she wrote.
The hardest and most complicated part of the book was working out how to print the story and leave pages for the photos, so that it followed in order. But I worked it out in the end. 
I read it aloud in front of the class, and she was thrilled. So were her parents!
Very satisfying!