Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prince Day and a belated LP-appreciation day

I was of course sad to hear that Prince had died, although I haven't listened to his music on a regular basis since my thirties. Back in the last 80's-early 90's, I went to see him live in Edinburgh, had his of hits on constant rotation and hung out with at least one male friend who styled himself like The Purple One.

So today I have been playing the entirety of my (small) Prince collection, but turned down low because some of those lyrics are really inappropriate for a ten-year-old to hear.

Today I also sorted out my collection of LPs, in readiness to sell them off to a local second hand record shop. (While it would have been nice to keep them and play them again, we don't have a record-player - nor the space or funds to acquire one).

The shop turned out to be closed when I got there, so they are back in our hallway. I will miss the records of my favourite NZ bands (The Chills, The Verlaines, The Bats, Sneaking Feelings, Wild Poppies) and overseas indie bands (Siouxsie and the Banshees) - not so much the Jackson Browne albums (I grew away from California rock waaaay back).

But it was only while searching the Internet to get an idea of whether my records are worth much, that I found I can listen to alot of my old favourites on YouTube. I even found the Wild Poppies, whom I had always believed to be some obscure local band that didn't get anywhere - well it turns out they were quite a popular live band in the UK back in the eighties. It's just fantastic.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A month of it

I have been sick with one or more cold viruses for about a month now. I'm just sick of it.

Off the needles

I completed a few knits recently:
An elbow length tee knit from chunky cotton - after I took this photo I  re-knit the torso so it has the yellow strip going around the chest instead. 

This turned out a wee bit too fitted around the armhole, which means I can only comfortably wear it over a thin layer...
A pretty beanie for the boy, knit from Skeinz merino dk. He likes it, and that's all that matters. I took this photo while he was at his computer, because that's where he spends the most time.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

On the kombucha wagon

After taste-testing a range of Booch (commercially brewed and flavoured kombucha by the Goodbuzz Company) flavours the summer before last, I became a bit addicted to the stuff. It is supposed to be very good for you, I really liked the tasted, and the barely-detectable alcohol content was enough to make me smiley all afternoon (I am a cheap drunk).

But lately I've not been buying the Booch due to budget constraints. I missed it sorely and have been hoping the brewer doesn't go out of business just because I stopped buying it every day.

But now I can potentially become my own supplier of Booch-similar product, because one of my workmates gave me a kombucha scoby and I am the second-fermentation phase of my very own batch.

It's all very exciting, especially when I read about people's glass bottles blowing up because of excess carbon dioxide build-up...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Holiday weekends wait for no virus - and beware of errant undies

TLM is getting over her second cold of the month - normally for her a cold is done and dusted within a few days with maybe two days off school, but this time around she stayed home for the 4 days before Easter and has only just started easing off on the nasal dribblings.

After demolishing three boxes of tissues and about 5 loo rolls I was worried that there'd be nothing left of our grocery budget by the time she's done.

Then I got her cold, which was also my second cold of the month. (Though lately my colds don't manifestly nasally; it's more a case of terrible headaches and brain fuzz followed by wheezing and coughing. )

But dammit, I'd already booked for our accommodation in Ohakune and would lose my deposit if we cancelled - so we went.

It went swimmingly well actually. TLM, newly introduced to reusable tissues (that is, handkerchiefs),   kept her snots under control and the boy and I didn't feel the urge to pluck dried snots that were stuck on TLM's septum. My own cold has been arrested and I put it down to finishing a whole bottle of lemon, honey and manuka syrup over three days. We went for forest walks, played board games and relaxed with the friends we were holidaying with.

We stayed at the Top Ten Holiday Park there, in a kitchen cabin. That means your cabin has a kitchen (as well as beds, a bedroom and a tv) but you have to use the communal bathroom. Normally it wouldn't appeal but their communal bathroom is actually pretty nice and the showers are amazing.

The only problem with external bathrooms is that when I go there to have a shower I always forget to bring all of the clothes I want to change into post-shower; and I always forget to bring a bag for the dirty clothes. So when I got dressed after my shower I had to tuck my unclean undies into the waistband of my leggings (so I wouldn't have to be seen clutching them in my hands).

Of course I forgot to remove said undies after returning to our cabin - and only remembered after we'd packed all our stuff into the car, the boy had started the car and I was trying to sit down and put my seat belt on.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Why I enjoy having a swan plant



They came, they ate, they chrysalized on our back door frame, and then they emerged and fluttered away.

I made a top out of hexagons


Hmmm, I thought. This could go either way. A top made of hexagons. In different colours.
Either I'll wear it out on the street and people who pass me will mentally say "what a shocker!" Or I'll wear it out on the street and people won't notice because there are already a number of people in my neighbourhood who dress funny.

In any case I'll have to wait for it to get a lot colder as this is made of wool. I plan to wear it over long sleeve tops. Whether I do so out of the house or not will just have to wait until then...

I bet you want to make one too now. Have a look on my Ravelry page for details.



The lemon that looked like a pair of boobs

Our lemon tree is chock full of small, ripe lemons (due to lack of proper pruning) so I got out my secateurs, gruntingly shifted the rubbish bin over so I could use it to get some height, and harvested me some organic lemons.

It was the boy who found this one, amusing shaped like a pair of breasts nipples and all.



If you hold it points-up, it takes on a mildly devilish appearance ("devil's dumplings!"- a Blackadder reference)
But this lemon's odd form could not save it from becoming lemonade.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Shopping the wardrobe

Would it be weird to wear a ten-year-old pair of perfectly nice black maternity trousers, even though that's how long's been since I was last pregnant?

It's the big stretchy panel at the top that gives it away.

FYI I did wear them a few times as yoga pants, but I could definitely have passed as "expecting" (it would be the non-flat belly that did it).

Stories that make you go "hmm..."

When I'm in the library looking for something to read that isn't knitting or sewing related, I find browsing the Librarian's Choice shelf is often quite successful.

The most recent good find is a book of short stories called Fortune Smiles, by Adam Johnson. The author apparently won a Pulitzer Prize of an earlier novel (The Orphan Master's Son).

It's just great. The stories are sad but not poignant. There were no chuckles whatsoever to relieve the tragedy. But the people in them haunted me and made me realise how much I just don't know about people.

Like, there's one about a former warden of an East German political prison who can't accept that anything really bad ever happened in there (and anyway they deserved it). And the one about the survivor of child sex abuse who struggles to do something positive with his life. Serious themes, but don't run away from them - it's worth it.

Soaking in the sun

Even in the summer, it's unusual here for overnight temperatures to go so high as to make it hard to fall asleep - for it to be so hot at night that (gasp) the only option is to cover yourself with just a duvet cover.

No cover at all would be another option, except every time I have tried to sleep uncovered I have woken up with the sound of a mozzie buzzing in my face. TLM already has a couple of big, hive-y bites on her arm and so does the boy.

Last weekend TLM was in the Chinese New Year Parade (and I was there as a parade marshall), along with a number of other dancers who trained intensively over the school holidays specifically for this day.

I was worried they'd all get sunstroke as they had no shade whatsoever, but after the late-starting parade, getting ready to go onstage and finally the performance, they seemed thankfully okay.  (and TLM perked up heaps once she ate the curry and rice I bought her from the food hall - after realising I'd forgotten to pack her afternoon snack).

Maybe it's just us oldies who are at risk on hot and sunny days.

We went to the city beach today for one of our walk-and-eat-ice cream outings, and it was pretty full. Mostly full of tanned back-packers, that is..but as long as they litter or do anything appropriate I guess it's okay with me.

Monday, February 01, 2016

An attempt at making a cropped cardigan work for me

 I have been thinking about making a shrug but liked the look of some of those cropped cardigans that keep...uh...cropping up all over the web.

I make this out of black merino dk from Touch Yarns and made an elongated edging out of two different multicoloured yarns: a thick and thin merino from Touch Yarns (discontinued, even if I could remember what it was called) and a wool/mohair blend from Anna Gratton. 

The idea was to elongate the silhouette with the extra-long edging as I was worried a cropped shape wouldn't be flattering on my un-model-like shape. 

It kinda works, visually. But practically, it doesn't really. DK merino is far too warm for cool summer mornings/evenings. Plus the sleeve length doesn't work over a t-shirt. So I will probably try wearing this again in autumn, over something like a longer sleeved tunic or dress.

The knitting pattern is Butterscotch Bolero from West Yorkshire Spinners.



Me-made sunhat

When I accidentally dropped my favourite sunhat somewhere in the Countdown supermarket, I initially thought it would be an excuse to go shopping for a new one.  But I could not really justify the off-budget spending because I do have other sunhats.

Then I got the idea to make one myself. I found a tutorial on Youtube (called Weekly Sewing Bee), watched half of it, then go to work.

The materials I used were bits of old jeans and leftover fabric from my grey denim jacket. They really were just bits, because I'd previously cannibalised the same jeans to make a pair of long shorts for TLM (more about them when they have been laundered and I can get a photo). 

A quick sew job, I tried to follow the tutorial instructions and tweaked it as I went. I made flat fell seams at all of the vertical joins, but not on the horizontal seams. I used leftover bias binding (from the grey denim jacket) to tidy up the brim, and took in the crown a bit to improve the fit. Obviously this hat is not going to win any hat-making prizes, however I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

I need a sunhat for my house-painting tasks this week (just touching up around the windows, where it's flaking like a really good pastry) and this would be the obvious choice. But I'm reluctant to get it covered in paint.


A leafy blue beret

I knitted this out of Zealana Heron, using the Press Leaves beret pattern in Alana Dakos' book Botanical Knits. I had the idea of making this for a present for a friend who really likes beret, and wanted to use up the single ball of Zealand Heron in my stash. Of course this was not enough so I had to break my yarn diet to buy a second ball in order to finish it.


Lemons as big as oranges!

Our trusty lemon tree has been very generous this spring and summer. Twice now we have harvested enough to make a dozen lemon juice ice cubes plus a weeks' worth of lemon syrup (for homemade lemonade).

Being a tall and wide tree, I often looked wistfully at the really big lemons that I just could not reach (without chopping most of the branches off and using these to construct a climbing frame to the top).

But occasionally we got a windfall of extra-large fruit that we just have to record for posterity.

There was no-one around to help me hold the measuring tape against it, but you can see its size relative to a standard glass tumbler.

TLM was available for this one, which measured out at 10.5cm long.

Alas, both lemons are no longer as they have long since been consumed...