Monday, January 30, 2006


as always has been cutting into my knitting time, however, there is light now as the girls prepare to return to school, oh bliss! Last week became very busy, very quickly, thursday (Australia Day) was good, we finished the evening on the roof, watching the fireworks, Holly and her friend Sean were at the Big Day Out, and the other girls were in town at the festivities.

friday was supposed to be relaxing, Flash had an 8.30 appointment at the dentist, and a day off work, he came out of the dentist with another appointment for 3.15...fine, at 2.40 Charlotte was told that she had a job interview at 3.3o, we were not expecting her to be interviewed until the next week, so had not prepared, we leapt into the car, off to the Mall for black pants, and a pretty blouse (try shopping for a size 4 - thats US size 1?-with no time) and no time for shoe shopping, so she borrowed some from her sister, and then I dropped her in the city for the interview (she did very well, found the correct building and managed to catch the bus home, despite never having been in the city alone before) Flash had to walk to the dentist, 3.30 I had a call from him, "can you pick me up" - yes in 10 minutes - "no worries I'll walk home".

Arrived home, Flash in a sorry state, has just called the dentist and has to go back immediately, tooth has fallen out, Holly and Sean have to be at the International airport for flight to NZ at (check in is 4pm) Blaise is not home yet to see Holly off and her cellphone is switched off, Charlotte is somewhere in the city without a cellphone, Mummy is torn between everyone- so goes into organisational overdrive - Maria has a key and is at work, so Charlotte can get in the house, get Holly, Sean, Flash and bags into car, take Flash to dentist, wait 10 minutes, resist Champion textiles sale, take poor Flash home, drive to airport, pick Blaise up from friend's place, luckily near airport, Blaise very happy, collapse at airport and refuse to move until restorative amounts of coffee ingested, see my darling girl off, and for once I don't cry (well, I'll be seeing her again in a week!) phone home to see how Flash is bearing up - and discover Charlotte is home safe and well, with a positive interview experience under her belt...Blaise and I sing Exponents songs all the way home, and find Flash happily doped up and tucked up on the couch.

I did not get the job I applied for, I am not willing to work fulltime,they are not willing to employ a part-timer, so there we go...happily this led to a series of events which will result in the fulfilment of a couple of wishes, and the offer to be a "kept woman" for a while - my dear husband has suggested that maybe I start designing again, rather than seeking souless employment (you can tell my megalomaniac boss has spooked me can't you) and I am warming to the idea, I have agreed to do 60% of the housework unless (until) things get crazy, and he has agreed to remain calm if the house looks like a tornado hit if I am really into something. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off me, I was getting myself into a spin worrying about work, now I don't have to worry so much.

One of my biggest regrets is that I did not take many photos of the garments I made and sold, I have a few in storage, in NZ, but most of my notebooks and patterns have gone, I thought that part of my life was over...I am never ever giving any of this stuff away again!! We had a disk with photos of my last designs, but can't find it since the move, I can only hope it is in storage too.

On the knitting front, the Opal petticoat socks are over half-finished, I have turned both heels, and have completed the gusset on one, so next I am knitting the second gusset, knitting them both at the same time does seem to be working for me. I am not too enamoured of the petticoat, I had expected it to be more pastel-y, I find the lime green sets my teeth on edge a bit, however they are not for me, so I will just move on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Self portrait tuesday

so many to choose from, but I like this photo of me at 2, confident, aware. My Mother believed it was vital to get down on the floor and play with your kids, her MIL thought she was crazy, I learnt to read around the same time this photo was taken, and my sister was born soon after. The future was bright.

(shhh it is still tuesday somewhere)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I will be in NZ for a lot of the Winter Olympics, so have chosen to stand down and not participate in the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics, however in support of my fellow Australasians, I have made some buttons, take and enjoy. You may need to resize them.

Also a shout out to Cantabrians, any links and addresses to anything you think I may be interested in in Christchurch, as I will be there for a day or two in Feb.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Endings and beginnings

this post is not as deep as the title suggests.

Here we have finished objects ( please clap politely)

The Panta - knit with one ball of Rare Yarns Cocoon (merino,silk,alpaca,mohair blend) in "jade"
it came out too long, so I have decreased the number of rows in a repeat from 16 to 14(her head is 22 inches around in Panta terms)
I had to rip this back 3x to get the decreases looking right (i.e. not showing) finally nailed it with help from fellow SSK-ers.

Next we have the finished thrummed mittens for
Holly, I love these, I used my ordinary kitten mitten pattern (in the sidebar) and knitted pencil thin lengths of roving in on every 4th row,every 3rd stitch, this left a float between each stitch (like fairisle) which I fluffed up when the mittens were finished.
I have promised Holly bedsocks with a thrummed sole next, but I am thinking a thrummed hat might be better in the weather she is going too! These were fun and quick to make (less than a day each....with at least a mon th in between!) using 1 ball of Noro silkgarden and approximately 15g Fleece Artist roving.

In order to avoid 1/2 finished projects I am trialling this method of making socks...2 at once, (no Donni I have not managed the 2 socks on 2 circs pattern from Knitpicks yet...but I have printed it, and bought the 2 circs, and they are all sitting together with the yarn, so next time!) you knit the rib of one, then the rib of the second sock, the first 20 rows of the one, the first 20 rows of the other, you get the picture, so you are never more than 20 or so rows further along on the first sock, and the "second sock syndrome" becomes "second toe syndrome" much easier to cure. Opal Petticoat - where were you when my girls wore kneesocks? they would have adored you, now you are destined for my Granny.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Blaise doesn't want a blog celebration of her birth like last year so here is an old favourite poem from when fifteen was five.

Sleep, darling
I have a small daughter called Cleis,
who is like a golden flower
I wouldn't take all Croesus' kingdom
with love thrown in, for her
Don't ask me what to wear
I have no embroidered headband from Sardis to give you, Cleis,
such as I wore
and my mother always said that in her day a purple ribbon
looped in the hair was thought
to be high style indeed
but we were dark:a girl whose hair is yellower than torch light
should wear no head dress but fresh flowers

tr. Barnard

happy birthday darling Blaise

Thursday, January 19, 2006

finally I can put my feet up

to your right is a brand new button, click on it and it will take you to my latest free offering, I made the prototypes just after Christmas,and sent them to a friend in NZ.I have spent the past 2 days knitting these samples and writing the patterns. In the patterns I am taking a bit for-granted...that you will know how to arrange a 3x1 rib for instance! anyway, there they are...enjoy, and knit now for the yoga enthusiast in your life, get a jump-start on next Christmas!

This week has been hectic, Charlotte arrived home on sunday, and is settling in, I visited the "girls in the 'gong" on Tuesday and was entertained with the GOOD china (beautiful) cakes, cookies, a yummy lunch and good vino,I had a fabulous time, and so nice to talk knitting, get advice, and support, I feel like I am heading in the right direction.

Home is not a quiet place, even with Flash in Melbourne, Maria at camp and Holly working from feels as though there is just too much happening and I am feeling overwhelmed...hard to blog when your husband is on the phone, 2 t.v.s are on with doors open, and a kid is sitting, waiting for the computer...have you ever been stared at by a waiting teenager, very unsettling!

I am off to finish knitting Blaise's Panta, (alright I haven't joined the panta-along...I've joined in spirit if not in fact) fingers crossed I finish it before tomorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

a Mother's heart

I wasn't going to post today, not much going on, still working on that pattern I promised yesterday.

Blaise came to me tonight and uttered those magical words "could you please teach me to knit?"
YES! yes oh yes! I was sure she would be the one to withstand the temptations of the yarn...she is the musician, the actress, but no, there were these "darling little wristwarmers" YES! I leapt up and within a trice had soft pale pink pure wool dk, and electric blue steel needles, ( I cast on and knit the first few rows) and then sat her on my knee (she's tiny for almost 15) and, well, taught her to knit, as I write this she has knitted 6 rows, she is going great guns!

As she turned the needles again, for yet another row, I whispered the words from the opening of the Cast-on podcast "Knit - knit like the wind" her reply - "would a gentle breeze do?"
yes my dear, it will for now - but soon you will be knitting up a storm!

here it is, the picture to warm my heart - 2 of my girls knitting, we are now a majority!

Friday, January 13, 2006

this is not a baking blog!

really, I just looks that way!

yesterday I received a gift from a wonderful lady Danielle, which just blew me away... this cute decorated parcel, and inside a beautiful card, and the most darling little stitch markers...combined my love of eating and my love of knitting into the perfect wee gift. The name of the artist is Michael Parkes I love his use of colour, all of those different blues. Thank you so much Danielle, I appreciate your grace and thoughtfulness.

knitting content - almost zero, I am knitting...frantically knitting...but it is all secret since 1/2 the family read the blog, I am working on a free pattern though, and it will be up quite soon. I figured the best way to deal with next Christmas, is to start knitting the Christmas presents NOW, then pack them safely away and feel all virtuous when December rolls around again (do not, I say, DO NOT burst my bubble!)

I contacted a real (not fake) estate agent yesterday, he is going around to the Auckland house today to give us an appraisal (and we get the house checked out as well, which is a bonus) so it may well be on the market by this weekend, we won't miss it, none of us ever really liked it, but it served it's purpose well, and is in a good school zone, so, well...fingers crossed. It is a concrete step towards the realisation of our dreams and goals. The dreams and goals where we renovate and extend (in a sympathetic manner) our turn -of-the-previous-century villa in the country, and build a quaker-style barn up the back of the garden so that Mummy can design and knit all day, while looking out over the river and the hills beyond...ok, so it is still a few years off, but like I said, at least we are taking steps towards it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


not much happening at Chez lotsakids, I had a job interview this morning, I think it went well, but will not tie myself up in knots, whatever will be, will be, however, if it is to be, it will be
- a big change for me, careerwise, because it is not a career type job, but I think something that will be a whole lot more fulfilling, will update.

Knitting progress is being made, have been playing around with decreases, how to make them look right etc, found this great site which you probably all have bookmarked already, but if not...go there! this woman is a goddess. I am so grateful to everyone who shares their knowledge so that we all have this great resource at our fingertips, the decreases are on a baby cardi I am designing, in the old days it would have taken me ages to work out or find out these sometimes obscure techniques,now they are just a click away.

Wisteria Craft in Miranda Westfield are closing down, they are not sure when, just whenever they are told to pack up, but if you live close by get in there and buy something to help them out, I picked up a pile of Susan Bates anodised straights and dpns for 1/2 price, it is such a pity that these stores are closing, as I mentioned to Donni, some of these malls don't even have bookshops let alone yarn shops... they have 10 phone shops, 5 gaming shops, 20 "cut price, plastic crap,variety shops" and no bloody bookshops (excuse my rant)

Thank you thank you to Annie, who made me a beautiful Christmas tea-towel, which I opened on Christmas day, and have just packed away for next Christmas, Flash was quite overwhelmed that you actually made it for me...he is just starting to get the hang of this online friend thing, and is very impressed.

I am baking for Flash's management team meeting tomorrow - the joys of being a housewife! dark chocolate and cherry cookies, and good old oatmeal and raisin, so I'll leave you now with a picture of a present from Flash...loving these colours.

Monday, January 09, 2006

on Island time

I promised a batch of homemade Coconut buns - but it's not going to happen folks, I went clothes shopping yesterday, and while I don't usually discuss such topics in public..."the time has come - the walrus said" the Christmas/New Year eating and drinking fest ends now, so it is "templefood" time in the words of Nigella - see her book "How to Eat" the "low-fat" chapter, basically you eat porridge for breakfast (with golden syrup for her, honey with ginger for me) a baked potato with cheese for lunch for her (with broccoli and cheese for me) snack on fruit, vegies or low-fat fromage frais "gloop" if desperate, and dinner is a small amount of fish or chicken, loads of vegies, predominantly Asian flavours, I like her approach and attitude to dieting - just get on with it - and don't bore people by talking about - so I will cease now!

Back to the Coconut bun recipe, this recipe has providence - when I was a child my Mother worked fulltime, so needed a childminder during the school holidays, often we ended up at the home of my Speech and Drama teacher, her husband and numerous children, her husband was Samoan and it was from him that I learnt these recipes, as I helped him make the dough in an old baby bath, and watched with delight as they grew golden and fragrant in the oven, then we rode in the car with him as he delivered them to dairies ( convenience stores) all over Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. When I worked at WINZ as a case manager, I had a lot of Samoan colleagues, they were amazed when I brought "Pani popo" in for morning tea, smiling they always asked me"how can a Palagi (pronouced "palangi" - European) like you make pani popo?", I told them the story and had them over to my house to show them how to make them.

here is the recipe, no photo I am afraid

Coconut Buns (Pani popo)

1 quantity of dough (from recipe for cinnamon buns)
1 can (440 - 500 mls) coconut cream ( I use lite, it doesn't change the taste)
1 C white sugar

stir the sugar into the coconut cream, set aside for now.
Make the dough into rolls as described in the previous recipe, brush the dough with some of the coconut syrup before rolling up, but not much, cut into buns.
Place the buns in a greased roasting pan (alternatively place them in foil pans, 6 to a pan). Leave to rise while the oven heats,when risen, pour the syrup over the buns, it should come up the sides by at least a centimetre, you can make more syrup if you like, as long as the buns are no more than 1/3 submerged, bake until golden - open the oven twice during cooking to baste with the coconut syrup.
The syrup becomes gelatinous as it cools, absolutely delicious.
Serve warm if possible and should be eaten on the day they are made (can be re-heated i n the microwave)

Friday, January 06, 2006


The big girls are working, so Blaise and I took the opportunity to do some baking bonding.

We made cinnamon buns

and chocolate cherry buns

Basic bun dough recipe:

1 C hot water

1 C cold milk

4 C bread flour

1t salt

1/4 C white sugar

3 T plain oil (I use grapeseed)

2 1/2 T dried yeast

place all ingredients in breadmaker pan (remember to put the liquids first, then dry ingredients, then yeast) and put on the dough cycle, remove from pan when ready, roll out into a rectangle 2 cm thick - fill with fillings as below.

(if you do not have a breadmaker - check cookbooks or online and make the dough by hand)


cinnamon: mix 1 c brown sugar with 2 t ground cinnamon, spread 2 T melted butter over dough, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then sprinkle with currants (to your taste)

cherry chocolate: make almond paste - 1/2 C ground almonds, 1/4 t almond extract,1/2 t vanilla extract, 1 T soft butter, 1/4 C sugar, mix well, adjust if necessary. Spread dough with almond paste, sprinkle with dried cherries and chopped dark chocolate (to your taste)

roll up, slice into 12 peices, place in a greased pan (I use a roasting pan) turn oven to 180 degrees (360) and leave to rise while oven heats, bake until light brown, place on a cooling rack, drizzle with simple water icing.

I have one more cinnamon bun type recipe, the Samoan version, I think we will make them tomorrow - will post the recipe.

the kitchen smells heavenly, and Blaise's friend from down the hall dropped in to see her (lured no doubt by the delicious scent filling the corridor) I'm off to do some test knitting.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


you don't really think about things until you don't have them - like grass, it's a pain, you have to mow it, water it, remove weeds, sometimes you get bindis, and don't talk to me about prickle grass, the great NZ summer with all the kids limping along the grass verge on the way to the beach. However, it is summer, and summer to me is morning coffee on the back porch, reading the paper and watching the cat roll around in a dust bath. Wine in the evening on the front porch, chatting to neighbours as they stroll past on their evening walks, the air redolent with the smell of freshly mown grass.
We haven't had a garden for 15 months (apart from the pot of basil which I'm ashamed to say, isn't faring too well) I haven't missed the work - in Auckland we had 502 square metres, which was manageable, but Waihi is 1200 square metres, which was pushing it, I could have had a pony (or a couple of sheep...)!
Now that I have identified this yearning, I have set about healing it, the kids and I were off to sit in the park on a blanket, we have books and knitting, and the cafe is close enough for one of them to go get take outs, we can smell the grass, enjoy limited sun, and relax - I said "were", the sun seems to have disappeared, we may have to postpone until tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to it.

there has been knitting:
Trekking XXL socks - finished

Fleece Artist socks - 1/4 finished - Nancy Bush's Rib and Cable pattern - Fall IK these are for Blaise as I have knitted too tightly for them to fit anyone else, hopefully I will remember NOT to relax while knitting the second sock! The Fleece Artist is nice to knit with, there is a bit too much orange in this colourway for me - but Blaise likes it, problem with the first skein when I tried to wind, it was tied incorrectly, and after hours of patiently trying to unwind it, I ended up with total spaghetti, I was devastated, and when it came time to unwind this skein I was terrified it would happen again, but no, this one behaved like every other skein I have ever wound - perfectly.

and there has been swatching, the handspun from Tinonee, I swatched for it yesterday, and have spent half of this morning frantically trying to recall the amazing vest design I created while I was drifting off to sleep last night! I know that it is going to be "v" neck, almost mid-length and no rib, but I can't remember the little details which were going to make it fantastic, isn't that always the way.

Sales are on big time here, I have stayed away (trying to be good due to the decrease in income) but was waylaid yesterday by 60% off Hollywood knits (liking the "Matrix" sweater) and Simple Chic, while I was there I had to grab the air freighted winter IK (am definitely considering a subscription) today I definitely have to stay home and earn my keep.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Self-portrait tuesday

this SPT was challenging due to my lack of technical knowledge and software, I knew what I wanted to say, but not how to say it - so I'm saying it naively!
I come from a family of women, each and every one is opinionated and strong - just in different ways, this has been a major influence on my life and world view.
The background photo is one of me at 2, my Mum is pregnant with my sister, around us are my grandmother, and great aunts, the one in brown had an antique shop and was still driving a lorry when this picture was taken! The photo in the foreground was taken a couple of years ago, my Mum, my Gran,sister, daughters and step-daughters (and finally - a nephew!)

Sunday, January 01, 2006


it wouldn't be a New Year in our house without new happy cats ( I know it isn't Chinese New Year yet - gives me the chance to get some more) these little guys are smaller than a peanut.

The New Year holds promise and excitement - changes to be made - adventures planned or unplanned, I don't make resolutions - it tends to lead to failure in my experience, but I do hold with the "new slate" theory - out with the old and in with the new.

Here in the glasshouse we are excited to have Charlotte returning soon, sad to be seeing Holly go, but excited to be spectators on the next stage of her journey, looking forward to a trip home, thinking of selling a house, re-assessing my career plans, lots of exciting changes, all working towards a common goal - using our time and resources to ensure a more balanced existence.

Last year was a rollercoaster of homesickness and discovery, we left our comfort zone completely to follow a dream, I started this blog, and met some lovely, kind and inspiring people, Mary-Helen, Alison and Monica welcomed me to SSK, which is a unique, eclectic and vocal group of opinionated, passionate knitters. Donna's Australian and New Zealand knit bloggers list in turn brought Donni, Ailsa and Sharon into my life, I love that drive to Wollongong - an hour or so to myself singing too loudly, or contemplating future projects, and Donni's visits to Sydney - introducing me to a wider and wider sphere of local craftspeople, positively pressuring me to use my talents, and just general and constant chatting...I have missed the company of my girlfriends, of whom I had complete support systems in both Auckland and Waihi, in Sydney I have tended to shy away from potential friendships as I know that one day I will leave and it will hurt more - I know that is a silly way to live and am confident that I will overcome my self-imposed barrier.
Thank you to all of the wonderful bloggers I have met online, to those who have encouraged and provided assistance, the beautiful gifts I have received from virtual strangers, and the fun I have had creating gifts in return, the comments and emails which have encouraged me (who would have known that little fortune cat would have gone so far!), this is an infinitely positive and creative medium, and I am so glad to be a part of it.

Happy New Year!