Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nothing gold can stay

Three and a half years ago we packed up all of our camping gear, along with dozens of videos, books, old toys and other bots and pieces we couldn't take to Australia, but couldn't part with. We stacked everything in the smallest bedroom in our bach (holiday cottage) boarded the windows and placed two locks on the door to deter the tenants and left not knowing when we would return.

Which was yesterday, in driving rain after weeks of nothing but bright sunshine.

We had decided to sell, but during the familiar drive (we used to spend almost every weekend there) Flash and I pondered the wisdom of our decision, we hadn't managed to get there during the year we have been home, our lives have changed too much and the house needs a family living in it, it is a century old renovated kauri bay villa, it needs constant love and attention to keep it at it's best. But on the other hand we had such good times there, maybe we could find a way to fit it into our lives again...
An hour and a half out of Auckland we arrived to see our pride and joy looking neither, it was sad, lonely and dejected, the work we had trustingly paid for was incomplete, the interior neglected and improperly cared for, and we realised that our decision had been the correct one...a cabin by the beach is one thing, an antique house with original leadlights, ceilings and fireplaces is another, the cabin can be left, the house cannot - the house needs a fulltime family.
So we emptied our room of memories, and marvelled at how lives can change in such a short time, re-discovered old treasures, my sewing box, my stitch portfolio from my tech course. I gathered cuttings from the garden, from the 3 foot high rosemary hedge, the antique climbing roses, the grapes that were the classic taste of summer. We swept, wiped and dusted, and we met with a land agent and signed away eleven years of my life.
I do not wish to return.
And as we left, we kept our old ways, Flash sorting out the car and trailer while I closed up and said goodbye, except this time it was in every room, and this time it was forever. I thought of the house that was HOME for my girls

To the verandah where we sat and watched the world go by, the flooded river across the paddocks over the road, the satelites in the darkest night.

The dining room with the coal range where where I taught them to cook - scrambled eggs and pancakes. It was lower than the stove, easier for them to reach.

the lounge - as big as Texas, sometimes the floor was covered with their toys for a week at a time while they played "gymkhana" 30 toy ponies, hundreds of fences and jumps, water hazards and dressage rings. Other times up to 15 children lay in their sleeping bags watching movies and giggling late into the night.

Life has changed, the children are all grown, the old house served us well, now it is time for us to return the favour and let the house have a chance to be a home again.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


In Auckland the summer sun is fierce - it bites the skin like sun nowhere else I have been, the African savannah is hot, the Australian desert very much so - the heat sucks the moisture from your body, but in New Zealand the sun seems closer - some say it is the lack of atmospheral pollution, or the hole in the ozone layer that leads to our extreme levels of melanoma and other skin cancers.

So between 11 and 3pm my family try to stay out of the sun, we lie around in the shade trying to find a cool breeze, the humidity makes the air feel even hotter than it is, the pool is a welcome escape as by 1pm it is in partial shade, the back deck holds shelves laden with factor 30, hats and towels, we are nothing if not prepared for the conditions.

Blaise's room is an oasis of cool, placed in the most shady corner of the house, the upstairs workroom and our room are in the sun's path all day and become superheated - a portable air conditioner brought back from Sydney means that we can sleep without being eaten alive by mosquitos, and is a fascinating distraction for Frasier, who leaps on top of it when it starts up, and then positions himself between the machine and us...in order to protect us from it...he seems to think.

So, the knitting is continuing, but slowly due to the heat.

Thanks to 2 lovely and competent test knitters I have released the "Nikau hoodie and pants" pattern for sale by digital download. It is mostly an easy knit, with a few interesting bits - the cabling for the Nikau palm design and the short rows at the hood and nappy shaping. I can't wait to see the different variations as they come up on Ravelry. I am close to having the "Liam sweater and cowboy pants " pattern ready for release soon too, which I know a number of people have been waiting for, and am working on something sweet for the girls.

No clues, but here is a taste - lots of pink, and don't you just love that Chirimen crepe cherry blossom ribbon - it's from Fabric tales, who are very quick and very helpful!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Second Sidewinder Sock Syndrome.

I can feel myself going down.

It's not the pattern (free from the brilliant Nona)

(you must trust the pattern, if your gauge is correct trust the pattern...even if it looks too small) I took this advice from Sarah on "socks on the needles in general" and am very glad I did, the sidewinder fits perfectly.

It's not the pattern, it's the yarn - Noro Sock, don't get me wrong I LOVE this yarn, I received a couple of skeins to play with (and yes it is interesting and effective used as baby yarn - more another day) and am definitely going to buy lots of this stuff, but it is the qualities of the yarn, combined with the technique of the sock which became my potential downfall - I don't want to knit the second sock because I know that when I finish it (very soon, because they are so wonderfully quick to knit) I will have to graft the entire back seam...which would not be so bad with a plied yarn, however the Noro sock is a single...a very twisty, turns and goes back on itself single...which doesn't work well when you have 75 inches of it to deal with...75 inches that I had to loop over my big toe to keep the yarn under tension EVERY SINGLE TIME I grafted a stitch;
- put needle through stitch
- loop yarn over toe
- commit bastardised yoga move under toe is inches from knitting, hook over hand to combat extreme looping
repeat over and over and over again.
The knitting took a little over a day, the grafting took 2 days and my will to live.
Today, I will write a pattern up, get another out of my head and into yarn before my head actually explodes - and then try again with the second sidewinder - wish me luck.
(I am semi-prepared, I have made a batch of extra spicy chai syrup, and there is Green and Blacks butterscotch chocolate in the "emergency" section of the pantry)

(adjusted the pattern slightly so I have more garter st rows at the back for better fit - and no, I'm not liking the cerise section...but I'm trying to "go with the Noro")

Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday round up

Happy New Year!

no resolutions, but a change of attitude brought about by conversations on New Years eve.
I think about time...all of the time, I make comparisons, split second in my head constantly...she's younger than me and has accomplished this, she's older than me and is still doing that, she's older but looks younger, she's 6 months older than me and is having her first baby, my youngest is almost 17, the days are going faster and faster, how does she manage to get that much done in a day and still keep the house clean? I don't have enough time!!!!
It has stopped (ok so not completely, but I am actively catching myself out and giving myself a stern talking to) I am going to be 40 in 5 weeks, life is too short to worry about how other people manage to live it, I have realised, and finally understand and believe...that I am the only one who can live my life, and that there is success to be had at any age.
We have had a lovely couple of weeks here at the castle - Flash has taken time off work, and has re-organised the house, he has dropped me off and picked me up from work on those iccky days between the stat holidays, we have been cycling, swimming and spa-ing, relaxing and enjoying the house and the sun - so much so that he didn't want to go on holiday.

I have been knitting (c0nstantly actually) I have finished Flash's heavy socks - that's his feet relaxing above (bought the yarn and pattern around 3 years ago...) I love this pattern, and am going to use it with my hand dyed for socks for the kids. I used the knitted graft from knitting daily - which I absolutely loved! I found it much easier than the usual grafting.
Charlotte's version of Le Slouch (top) from Wendy at Knit and Tonic took me a few hours and 1 ball of Naturally Woodland (mohair) 50g 100m in ballet pink. She is too much of a sprite to dress up and behave for the camera - so this is the best photo I'll get.
Don't forget - Knit Rangers this sunday - 2pm, more info here