Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Sometimes fate seems non-existant, I decide what happens to me, I plan my day, life trundles on...good things happen, bad things happen, it's life.

Othertimes fate holds a gun to my head and frogmarches me straight into the path of destiny, there is often a collision, it is usually messy, but it is always positive.

Today was one of those days.I pottered around this morning, drove in Christchurch to visit an antique shop I saw yesterday, Flash has a hankering after some genuine old signs for our BBQ area, and I had seen some in their window.

First I went to the huge Sally Army shop, and picked up a vintage chenille bedspread and a milk bottle carrier (complete with 4 glass milk bottles) for $5, then to the secondhand bookshop with the largest pile of "Stitchcraft" magazines I have ever seen! they didn't have many knitting books, but the number of vintage magazines and leaflets of knitting patterns was astounding, I picked up a delightful 1950's "Dressed stuffed toys" complete with templates, a bed jacket pattern book with pattern names like "femme fatale" and "gondola" (the imagination reels!) a gorgeous "Practical knitting illustrated" which "Daddy and Jayne" gave to "Dear Mummy, with the dearest love" in 1946, which makes this intriguing book even more special, it contains patterns for everything - the whole family, the house, even toys.In 1954 "Bruce" sent "Shirley" "Les Tresors de la Broderies" (embroidered treasures) and it is stunning, even in black and white (although there are a couple of colour plates) I can't wait to study it further, and I wonder whatever became of Bruce and Shirley...his message read "Christmas 1954, I send this little spoonful of the wealth of Europe, wishing I could send it all!"10 vintage knitting magazines completed that purchase.
The antique shop was closed (until tomorrow...) but the bric-a-brac shop next door was not...10 metres of 1970s braid for $1 and a vintage wooden Lichfield sign from the mens department of Ballentynes department store.
I turned the car in the direction of Akaroa, my destination for the day, and drove for maybe 5 minutes until I remebered directions from the "Crafty Girls" book, ah! there's a knitting factory shop around here somewhere...well it had closed down - but there was another huge thrift shop in it's place...2 more chenille blankets and 2 vintage pinnies for Blaise...ok, back on the road!
20 minutes later, in the gorgeous bleached blonde Canterbury countryside, I pass a plastered block building on the side of the road "Yarn" it says in big letters..."Tai Tapu wool carders and spinners"...in a split second I toss up turning the car around, or checking it out on my way back from Akaroa, I turn the car around, Fate does a victory lap.
Inside the small shop are shelves and rack of spun yarn, all different plies and wools, hanks of fine coloured wool are hanging on a wall, flax baskets on the floor are overflowing with carded roving, there are posters of sheep breeds, a couple of spinning wheels, and an almighty racket coming from out the back, I poke my head around the door and behold a huge machine carding yarn, obviously it also spins and plies and puts yarn onto cones, but don't ask me to explain it.
I catch the eye of the man operating the machinery, he comes around, past bags labelled with names and fibre types, one with cashmere locks spilling out, another with chocolate wool trying to escape.I am afraid that I did not get his name, I did not take photographs, I did talk a lot, and listen a lot, and almost swoon when I realised that here were people who could spin yarn for me! who would sell me small amounts of undyed merino on cones! (when I say small amounts, I mean up to 10 kgs...the other spinners I have spoken to are not interested in small fry like me) I did remember to leave my contact details, and to take his.
For those in Canterbury who didn't know about them - here are their details:
Tai Tapu Wool Carders
P O Box 56, Tai Tapu, CanterburyPhone 03 329 6859 Fax 03 329 6889
Various/mixedFine, medium, strongWhite, Black and coloured, DyedAll processed fleece. Custom carding Carded B&C wool. Carded dyed wool. Wool/mohair, wool/alpaca blends.Weaving singles. Hand knitting yarn. Agents for Majacraft products.
Not in the roadtrip book, but should be on your list.
The charming wool man gave me a part cone of a cable spun merino to play with, they also had felted merino yarn, we had a great chat about yarn and sheep and organics, pollution, you name it...but once again i found my words failing me...I know a lot about fibre, knitwear production, yarn counts, tex, wet processes etc, but you think it sounds like I know anything at all when I talk to other knitters/yarn people? no it bloody doesn't.
Magical realism is the genre I invoke when I think about my problems communicating with others...I am an intelligent woman, but unless you are a close friend or family member you will think I am either intensely shy or slightly thick."Years ago a man took her words from her, to this day she is still re-gathering them"
Enough of that.Elated I continued my journey to Akaroa, a French settlement on Banks Peninsula,outside of Christchurch, I drove windy roads up and down steep hillsides, the roadsides strewn with lupins, yarrow, evening primrose, heliotrope and vipers bugloss, I stood at the crest of a hill to take photos and marvelled at the way the european herbs have become part of the landscape, huge comfrey plants nestled at my feet, mullein and ladies mantle were tucked under a nearby apple tree, weighed down with a heavy crop - this is a NZ heritage tree, like so many by the roadside it is the legacy of an apple core tossed from a car window during an interminable car journey to the seaside many years ago.

I passed golden fields full of dirty sheep, irrigated emerald fields full of fluffy white pompoms of sheep, sheep on the road, sheep in trucks, under trees, lined up against fences to catch the shade.

I passed a sign which read " cheap lawnmowers, low maintenance, self propelled" then I realised they were selling sheep!

I drove through swarms of white butterflies, while the sun shone hot on my arm, and the sky sweated a brilliant singing blue, past fields of broccoli which smelt like cabbage soup as they slowly steamed in the intense heat, to Birdlings Flat a beach with wild turquoise seas (no photo - I couldn't do the colour justice) and dunes of flat grey pebbles - a wild and desolate place, the link goes to a jewellery company who manufacture unique jewellery from the stones and NZ paua shell (scroll down). I will return in winter, I can imagine the desolation to be more powerful when it is isolated.
I arrived at my destination - 2 words - "twee" and "cloying" the village of colonial wooden cottages and newer plaster buildings nestled at the feet of rolling hills, next to a tidal estuary, is as it is always described - pretty cottage gardens, sympathetic town planning, french street names and shop signs, and maybe if I was with a companion I may have enjoyed it more, but a quick wander down the street convinced me that the journey was indeed more important than the destination, the shops offered the same tat as the giftshops in the mall at home, the 2 galleries did not inspire me to purchase, a visit to the Wool gallery saw me leave town empty handed.
15 minutes later in "Little River" I perked up, the craft shop there was full of local products, the coffee refreshing, I bought a turquoise bowl to remind me of the colour of the sea in this wild place, had a chat with the proprietress about Holly's course, and the state of the ozone layer, and left feeling recharged.
Now I am back in the motel, my daughter had a long day at Uni, and is passed out on the bed with a book, I should drag her into town for a good meal before I return home tomorrow, but she looks settled, maybe we'll order Thai...I have enjoyed the opportunity to blog daily that this trip has afforded me, hopefully not too much time will pass until our internet is connected at home, as I have things to tell you!