Sunday, December 28, 2014

There's a difference between a jacket and a coat

This, I have learned, is most obvious when you are trying to sew a light jacket using a sewing pattern for a coat. There's a big gap at each shoulder which is calling out for a shoulder pad - though I really wanted to avoid using them because my shoulders are wide enough (or maybe they just look that way because I'm sort of wide overall).

Also, I get why tailors use all that extra interfacing and stiffening now - it's to fill in the gaps between your body and the jacket so that you don't get lots of unattractive wrinkles near your armpits when you wear it.

Still, I'll do what I can. This is to be my non-classic denim jacket which is definitely not a denim blazer (cos I hate those). The pattern I used is the one I used to make my spring coat a while back.

I've shortened the skirt a lot, have added rounded sleeve tabs, will add a back tab, and plan to have 3 button fastenings: where the skirt joins the bodice and; two more between there and the collarbone.  I also plan to use dark pink bias binding to cover all of the seams which aren't flat-felled.

It's been a funny old Christmas

It started with having to take my mum to the hospital on Christmas eve, because her GP was concerned about mum's blood test results. We spent all day in there.

The red-bearded Irish doctor told me my mum was cute and even went as far as asking the nearest Cantonese-speaking doctor to tell her in her own language. One day I must remind mum that "I love you" is not what you say when you want to tell someone that you think they have a nice bedside manner.

Afterwards I returned her to my brother's house, where she'd been staying. As I left, my sister-out-law said a few words about Christmas lunch - I could have sworn she said that we should turn up any time after 2pm.

On Christmas morning, we opened our presents and covered the entire lounge floor with discarded wrapping paper. The boy seemed very pleased with his manly jewellery box.

It turned out I was quite mistaken about the start time for Christmas lunch....and we'll just leave it at that...

At least, I thought, this would be one Christmas lunch when my mum won't nag us to take her home right after we've eaten, because she is already at home (albeit a temporary one). Wrong again - as soon as we'd eaten and finished shared desserts, she was nagging us to pack up her stuff and transport her away. I left my brother to sort it out, as mum doesn't listen to me anyway (I'm just her daughter).

Today my mum has been back at her home for two days, with my brother and I taking turns at 3 visits per day (which is what her home service package will be when it starts on 5 Jan). She has already rejected all three pieces of disability equipment, including the walking frame which had initially been indispensable. There is, as they say, life in the old bird yet.

I leave you with a photo of the hand made fridge magnets I told you about in an earlier post. Pretty, no?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

From barfing to babysitting

The weekend after TLM came down with a vomiting bug (thankfully very short-lived), I was struck by the very same bug.

I spent all of Monday dozing, shuffling (to the loo, to the back door to gaze at the sunny day outside), and drinking Powerade. And finding out that my mum had finally been discharged from hospital, and that my brother had taken her to his place until she was fit enough to go home.

By Tuesday I was feeling a hundred times better than I had the day before. I was still cautious about eating and was avoiding caffeine for the time being, but definitely well enough to go back to work.

The same day, the boy complained of a bad feeling in his gut. You can predict how that progressed.

Also on that day, I called my mum to ask how she was doing. All she wanted to do was to go home.

"There's laundry that needs doing, and my bed is still unmade from before I went to hospital". But we didn't believe she was ready to go home yet - it took her five minutes just to get from sitting down to standing up, and she couldn't walk for more than a few metres (with a walking frame) without needing a rest.

I applied for an emergency couple of days leave to give my brother some respite.

I went in this morning and mum was already up. "Alright" I said, "if you want to go home let's see if you can make your own breakfast."

Mum got as far as putting the jug on before complaining bitterly at my lack of customer service.

The rest of the day went a lot better, especially once she realised we weren't trying to force her into a rest home - because in NZ you can't get into a restroom even if you really want to, unless either you are willing to pay unlimited costs to get into one or the local health assessor thinks there's no other way for you to survive.

And that assessor is coming over on Friday, so we shall soon see...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A bit going on

I've been a bit distracted lately, because my mum's health has been a bit of a worry. She's just spent the last few days in hospital, which frankly was a relief because that followed several days of her feeling miserable and very tired. Being at hospital meant we didn't have to worry so much about her.

Now that her discharge from hospital is imminent, my bro and I will have to figure out how to ensure that she gets all the support she needs without driving anyone insane. Seriously, she can be a terrible grump, bossy and an extreme micro-manager.

A place at her retirement village of choice became free, but the prices have all gone up so that the cost of a studio there is only slightly less than my whole house is worth - and that's not including the weekly fees and others besides. So we have to look around to see if anything comparable (and not to far from us) is available that is more affordable.

On a more pleasant note, I was able to attend my work Christmas do. We had an Amazing Race type of thing at the Botanic Gardens, and spent a good couple of hours walking about the place, trying to find clues and taking many selfies. We took more selfies yesterday than I have ever taken before that day, or ever will after that day. After lunch we had the Secret Santa gifts. Mine was a set of six handmade fridge magnets, made using a variety of surprisingly attractive recycled objects. Honestly it was the best Secret Santa present I have ever received. Thank you Santa!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It turns out that something which keeps your neck and shoulders warm is a capelet

I was thinking that it would be nice to knit an accessory that keeps your neck and shoulders warm - like a well-placed shawl (but which doesn't blow off in the wind) or well-shaped cowl (which covers your shoulders).

So I got out a couple of balls of yarn, looked through a bunch of knitting patterns, and decided to use a top-down pullover pattern to make it.

What I came up with is a caplet. Although if you'd asked me what I thought about making a caplet I would have laughed in your face before swinging my scarf around my neck and walking away.

So it will be interesting whether I actually get to wear this, as it's not the sort of thing I had in mind at the start. I call it the Counterfort Capelet, named after the pullover pattern.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Spring with a dash of winter

When I finished my Hitch pullover (from Interweave Knits Winter 2014), I thought I'd be putting it away until next April or May.

But no - I put it on this afternoon and it's is just right for today's chilly temps.

Please excuse the unnatural angle. TLM was taking the photos and decided to make like a fashion photographer (yeah baby year! Now you're a monkey!) so I indulged her with a variety of non-typical poses.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Spring hat

I started this hat because I wanted a project to take to the Knit World knit-in session a while back. But I only went a couple of times because it wasn't looking promising (four people turned up the first time, three the next).

Then I got bored with making the boy's denim surf top again and decided to finish the hat instead.

It's Kiwiyarns Knits' own Cafe Hat pattern (but I stuffed up the ribbing and used different types of yarns so it's barely recognisable). Hopefully it won't be cold enough again to wear it until next autumn!

I've also posted it on Ravelry.

Vodafone gets to live after all

In case you'd had sleepless nights worrying about how my mum is doing without her only connection to the outside world (her landline phone), you'll be relieved to know that her phone was back on around midday yesterday. So you can call off the boys with the big sticks and knuckle-dusters.

It took me three long calls and an email of complaint (and possibly another call from the sister in law)  to achieve this. While they were at it, they also put the phone account in mum's name.

If they'd only done this latter task when I first asked them to (at the beginning of this month), it would have saved us all a lot of stress, frustration, wasted time on hold and in hopeless conversation and me getting unwanted instructions from family (but not the boy because he was just lovely and supportive) on how to "fix" the problem.

But at last the problem is fixed (though I still have to check they aren't going to try and bill her for two phone accounts or anything stupid like that).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shame on you Vodafone

Hyperventilating with frustration, I have just sent Vodafone a formal email of complaint. Do you want to know why? Because they disconnected my mum's phone which is her only way to get hold of  anyone, even though she's done nothing wrong.

It's because I have so far found it absolutely impossible to get my mum's phone account transferred to her name, from my sister in laws. It was in the sis in law's name because they lived with her for a while (before they left with the relationship between her and my mum in utter tatters) and set up her phone at the same time. Before that I believe it was in my brother's name.

They won't do it unless they can speak to both the sis in law and my mother. The sis in law spent an hour on hold with Vodes before being able to do her half of the transfer (get her name off the account).

We had trouble with the next step though. My mum doesn't speak English, I told them (more than once). They were sorry to hear that, because after another long wait they told me that meant they could not transfer the account to her name.

Transfer it to my name then, I said. After 20 minutes or so they said no, they can't. Because I am already a Vodes customer and I'm not allowed to have two different accounts with them (wtf?).

Okay, I said. I give up. Please lets go back the way it was. Okay, they said, we'll do that.

Then they disconnected my mum's phone. My mum, who is 90 years old, fairly deaf, frail, only conversant in Cantonese and mostly illiterate, needs her phone to be working. Not least because her medical alarm is connected through it.

But it has been impossible so far to get her phone reconnected.

What I would like to do is to take our custom away and go start an account up with a competitor - but it's quite likely we'd have to get the sis in law to talk to Vodafone again to do the first part!

And one last thing - they were going to charge my mum an extra $1.50 each month for receiving her bill in the slow mail. Pretty shoddy, considering she doesn't do email and is unlikely to suddenly start.

Shame on you Vodafone.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

On the occasion of my fiftieth birthday...

Astonishingly (and refreshingly), there is no McDonalds on the island of Rarotonga.

If I'd been told this at the beginning of our stay, I would have expected a very un-tourist-y family holiday.

We stayed at the Edgewater, which turned out to be the largest resort on the island. With hundreds of hotel rooms and villas (we stayed in a villa), it probably covered more area and had more inhabitants than Avarua - Rarotonga' downtown. So yeah, it is touristy - but not actually not all that touristy.

Some of the resort's more charming aspects, which made our stay all the more enjoyable, include: the super friendly staff; the very attractive floral prints they wear; the free range chooks that wander about unimpeded looking for tourist-borne snacks; the tropical fish-laden lagoon and the Ika Mata (raw fish marinated in coconut cream).

The boy introduced TLM to snorkelling, which quickly became her favourite daily activity (I myself took a couple of goes to get into snorkelling - breathing through a tube whilst under water freaks me out). TLM's second favourite activity was splashing me in the pool.

I painted my own sarong, TLM and I learned how to make a head garland from the gorgeous array of tropical flowers, and we all learned more than we ever thought we'd want to know about coconuts.

We also took a tour of the sights, on our last day. I was highly amused at the "sights" that we took in - the local hospital, several schools, the Cook Island house of parliament (which looks like a low-income boarding house) and so on. But there were some highlights too - the spot where the seven waka were supposed to have launched, carrying those who would become the New Zealand Maori hundreds of years ago; the beach at Muri; and the interesting but tragic story of a particular church built from huge chunks of coral reef (sacrilege, I know), whose builders died in the hundreds from lime poisoning.

And now we are back home. It's a relatively chilly 17 degrees Celsius but at least it won't be too hot to sleep tonight.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

So, a no to the Kobo glo

I went and bought the Kobo glo yesterday, thinking it would be just the thing to hold half a dozen novels for our holiday in RAROTONGA.

But by the time I'd spent a couple of hours trying to set it up, with a few restarts to fix the screen freezing on me, I was no longer very enthusiastic about my new toy. All this, and I hadn't even gotten as far as registering. Then it wouldn't turn on.

So today the boy and I took it back to the shop and got a refund.

And we got a Kindle instead. The setup was so quick! And nothing went wrong! I've already downloaded several free classics and can't wait to play with it.

Monday, October 06, 2014

e-books by gum!

I've been on a fiction-reading binge, which is really quite a change from my normal diet of knitting books, knitting magazines and Frankie magazine. And Capital magazine. (Yes, many magazines in fact).

I have, in the last few months, read a whole 4 or 5 novels, and that's a lot for me.

The one I just finished was Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, which was really good except for the breathtaking glossing over of how the heroine, her baby and her sweatshop-worker mother managed to survive while the former gained a medical degree and surgical training.

The two novels before that were a couple of ghost stories set in Alabama (or thereabouts) by RB Chesterton (which I enjoyed except they were quite match-matchy).

The one before that....actually I'll stop here.

Because the point of this post that I have decided it might  finally be worth getting an e-reader, now that I'm consuming a respectable amount of text-heavy product.

I know the Kindle is very popular, but I don't want to be tied into buying only from Amazon. I want to be able to support local booksellers and local writers.  I also want to be able to borrow e-books from our public libraries.

So I'm think I will get a Kobo. The boy said he'll get me one for my birthday, but seeing as he has just forked over way too much money to send us all off on holiday to Rarotonga, I would be fine with buying it myself.

And then I will check whether it's worth buying knitting magazines in e-format.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

My eye, my stye and I

Not much to say (I just liked the title) - a dramatic swelling on the inner corner of my right eye, followed a night of unparalleled gunkiness...then it was all over.

Just extremely impressed at how quickly it came and went.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Post-election blahs

I am still a bit depressed today, that National are not only back in government, but won so decisively. It's not so much that I think Labour would have done a fantastic job, more that I hoped more people would have voted for the Greens - and that I really hate John Key's guts.

It's not personal - our lives have been pretty comfortable and this is unlikely to change because the election results - but because in my opinion the Greens were the only party that was willing to instigate big changes for the long-term good of the country.

Also, I've seen so much evidence of dirty dealings on the Nats' part that I don't understand why it hasn't affected their popularity. Like the fact the Judith Collins had to resign because of all her dodginess while she was Ministry of Justice, yet her electorate has put her right back into Parliament!

There's also the fact that evidently the vast majority of the NZ voting public seems to disagree with me.


Friday, September 19, 2014

There's a lot going on right now

I was kinda excited at the thought that Scotland might vote for independence from the UK (seeing as so many clever people were or are from there). I don't know how well they would have got on without England, but now we'll never know.

And tomorrow is Election Day in NZ. Traditionally either my brother or myself would take our mum along to vote too, after giving her a brief run-down on the two major parties' philosophies (really quick, as our Cantonese doesn't allow for sophisticated political discussion, nor witty dissing of those I don't approve of).

I wasn't sure what we would do about helping mum vote this election, since I'm far more aware these days of the other parties. It turns out that our mum is quite content with how things have been going re: state of the nation, though that's not surprising since her focus is on the size of her superannuation payments and whether she's able to get free stuff from the government.

So if she votes National then I will not stand in her way (in fact I will drive to her house, pick her up and drive her around the corner to her polling booth. Then take her grocery shopping afterwards). Even though I disagree with her and even though she is not exactly well informed about the political goings on etc over the last few years. I figure, even with her narrowly focussed viewpoint, she is probably about as well informed as the majority of voters are anyway.

Also....we are going to Rarotonga for my birthday!! It won't be for a few weeks yet, and is only for 6 nights, but we're all looking forward to our first holiday (barring long weekends) since our trip to the UK back in 2011 or 2012 (I forget).

After that, I have to prepare for three days in Auckland for work, then getting TLM ready for her Brownie camp over Labour Weekend. It's all on!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Listening to Louise Nicholas

I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it one bit, but I needed to watch the dramatisation of Louise Nicholas' story. I felt like I owed it to her to sit through the entire, horrible series of events, that it was the least I could do. Because I wasn't any use to her at the time when she most needed to be believed - when that news broke years ago it was just background noise, only dimly acknowledged as something going on beyond the edges of what was going on in my life.

During that scene, when she retells what happened in that house with those disgusting examples of human beings - and policemen - my gut curdled. The anger kept me up all night and swamped my other feelings, which were of admiration at Nicholas' bravery in speaking up.

I'll never be able to understand why she couldn't run away when Scholum turned in his car to take her to that house, nor why she kept it a secret for so long, as though it was something that was wrong with her rather than something that was wrong with those men. But it doesn't make what they did to her any less despicable. And if I were a man then at some point I would probably have apologised for being one.


TLM turned 9 last week, and we held her birthday party in the weekend - at home. At our tiny little working man's cottage in which our living room also houses the dining table and the fridge (they're the overflow).

8 girls all in the house at once, making lots of squeaky noise and competing at who could perform the most entertaining death scene.

8 girls gobbling packets and packets of popcorn and marshmallows (and sundry other snacks).

It was a beautiful day (considering it's mid-winter) and we were supposed to have an outdoor picnic, but that didn't quite work out so we ended up with a floor completely covered in bits of popcorn, hand-made "smores", raspberry lemonade and hundred & thousands that fell of the fairy bread.

And I hadn't spent so much effort cleaning the house (both before and after the party) since last spring. Exhausting!

A hat plus two and a half sweaters

Just a check-in on my knitting progress...

This is not a skirt - it's the body of a stranded knit jumper

a cowl in Zealana heron

the back of a surf top for the boy. It is taking a LOT of yarn and time...

A short, barn-red cardigan for me

Sunday, July 20, 2014

winter white

Have you seen those personal style books which show how certain colours - or shades of colours - can affect your look, depending on your skin tone?

Well, I have. And although I can usually see the difference when I compare the before and after photos, I don't  always find it very easy to apply to myself.

I've tried draping fabrics over my chest to see whether it's "my colour" or not, and a lot of the time I can't tell.

Not so with this cream coloured cowl/scarf I blogged about recently -

When I saw the photo of the finished product in Metropolitan Knits I felt an urgent desire to possess (i.e. knit) one just like it. When I found the cream merino cashmere yarn at the Knit World sale my fate was sealed.

But when I put it on one chilly morning before work, I realised that I had fallen for that old "it looked so great on the model" trick.

Not only is my neck far too short for such a wide cowl, but the colour somehow makes my face look...unwashed. One's hand knits should not make one look fat and dirty.

Then I took it off and replaced it with my multi-coloured shawl...
...and I looked SO much prettier. And cleaner.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blood on the trampoline

Taking TLM to my mum's place this Sunday is going to be slightly awkward, because of something that happened last Sunday.

For some reason, my niece's best friend has accompanied her to mum's place most Sunday's for the last few months. She's not Chinese and perhaps finds it a novelty to spend time at an elderly Chinese lady's house and eat her food. 

The rest of us don't mind, though it's changed the dynamics between TLM and her cousin - and not just because TLM is more likely to get left out nowadays.

When the three of them go on the trampoline at the same time, it's damned likely that someone will get hurt.

I should have been on the alert a few weeks ago when they all got on there in the dark (post-dinner) and someone landed on her face. But TLM was - amazingly - not badly hurt.

Last Sunday, someone decided to do a handstand while they were on the trampoline. And TLM's face got in the way.

There was so much blood coming out of her nose and mouth. Once we'd got her cleaned up and calmed down enough for a good look, we found a split lip and a gash across her upper gum (right where she was growing two adult teeth).

I was quite angry and worried, but not comfortable with telling off someone is not my child - especially as I didn't see it happen so I couldn't be sure who was at fault. (The lesson here, I think, is that you don't stand behind someone unless they know you're there and you're both participating in some team-building exercise.)

About a week later, I am ready to stop being angry. But it would help a lot if  just this once, a certain person didn't accompany my brother's family to Sunday night dinner.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A couple of new knits

Recently I made a scarf and a pair of socks. Here they are:

The pattern is from Metropolitan Knits, and is suppose to have buttons at one end so that it can be worn like a cowl. I haven't gotten around to getting the buttons, but suspect that I don't have quite the swanlike neck that this kind of accessory is made for.

The yarn is a lovely soft merino and cashmere blend which I bought for $5 per ball at the recent KnitWorld sale.

It will keep my neck warm, once it actually gets cold enough for me to need one.

Speaking of colds, I am home with one right now. That's why I've got time to blog this...
These socks were a year in the making. Right after I started (and restarted) the first sock last June, I got bored with it and put it away. I only took it out again when I had to go to Auckland for work and wanted a small knitting project to take with me. And I finished the pair in five days.

Too bad they ended up too big for me - but they fit the boy's size 11 feet perfectly! The pattern is from Blendy Knits Socks.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

In another universe I'm a tech guru...

Unless you've been reading this blog for a long time, or know me personally, you'll know that in another life (but in this universe) I worked in IT.

And that I wondered often how it is that I managed to spend about 15 years in IT without ever becoming one of those really useful people who can help when your computer stops behaving.

I mean, until recently I couldn't even work out how to get a DVD to play in our Playstation.

And yet, when it comes to my mum's Freeview television set-up, I am the guru.

My brother, who is no techie, can't fix it when my mum suddenly loses her picture.
My mum, obviously, can't fix it.
The boy probably could do it with his eyes closed, both arms lopped off at the shoulder and only one working leg. But he doesn't have to, because I have always been able to fix it.

To be honest, there are only three "fixes" in my box of tricks:

  • press the input button in case someone tried to change channels with the wrong remote
  • check that the Freeview box is on, in case someone tried to turn the telly on with the wrong remote
  • turn the Freeview box off and on again, in case it's neither of the above.

But so far I have been able to get the telly going again every time. it does feel nice to be the guru in my mum's Freeview tv universe.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This year's TLM knit

I made this cardigan for TLM. It fits perfectly and looks great (if I may say so myself). Which just confirms my suspicion that kids make the best models. I used a Sirdar pattern (more details on Ravelry).

Elephant girl

This is what happens when you cut up an oversized sweatshirt for your imaginative daughter to wear, because her plaster cast prevents her from wearing her normal gear... (please excuse the poor photo quality - it was taken at night without a flash)

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Flying off the flying fox

TLM has broken her wrist (well, not broken exactly because being a kid, her bone has sort of bent rather than cracked - but in effect it's a break).

It happened in the school playground, and I got the call while I was chatting to the members of the board at work (specifically, I was trying to explain that my eyes were pink because of allergies, not because they work me too hard).

Saved by the phone, only to be told that my darling was crying her eyes out in the school office. I was  very kindly given a lift to the school, where I picked her up and took her across the road to the A & E.

About three hours later we emerged into daylight again (just). TLM  has a plaster cast on her right (non-writing) arm which stretches nearly to her armpit. She can't get any of her clothes on over her right arm, so it's just as well it's not that cold at the moment.

The bummer is that she was going to play her first game of netball this weekend, and now she's only able to be a supporter for the next six weeks. Plus, she's got Brownie camp in a couple of weeks so I guess archery is going to be off her schedule.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A bach by the sea

We had a lovely time at Waitarere Beach, in a bach (seaside holiday home) big enough for two families of three.

Expecting foul weather, we packed warm clothes, raincoats and enough board games to hold a convention.

But there was plenty of sun, enough to allow trips to the beach itself, walks to the playgound, and outside play on the back lawn. TLM and her friend had a go too.

There were swelter-y moments which convinced me to forget about propriety and just roll up my jeans and sleeves and show the world my manly hiking shoes - just for the sake of getting some airflow about the limbs.

I have no photos, alas. Because we were all there to relax and I was just too relaxed to get out my phone and take any.

I did learn something though. I learned that if I leave my fully-charged phone on for two days without using it at all (except maybe twice to check the time), it will go utterly flat.

An experiment with pattern-printed yarn

I saw pictures of Naturally Loyal Pattern Prints yarn in the Knit World catalogue and decided it was time to try it out. I've been interested in the idea of pre-printed yarns ever since Sirdar Crofter came out. The pink edging is a completely different yarn though.

Unfortunately I am not meticulous enough to knit two mitts which are the same size as each other - but they do fit my wrists and one day I will remember to wear them whilst knitting or typing (as a defence against OOS).

So what do you think? Is it worth trying again with something bigger? (I'm thinking no)

Slightly more detail on Ravelry.

The yellow peril

I finished my Rosemary cardigan which is, in fact, mustard.
I'm quite please with it, apart from the fact that the top button has a tendency to undo itself. It's no biggie, but a bit annoying when it happens.

I've worn it a few times already, during our hot 'n' cold autumn, and people seem to like it as much as I do.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Long tops made of very thin fabric

There's something I have learned to look out for, and that's when I'm thinking of buying a tunic-length top in one of those lovely sheer print fabrics, to wear over jeans.

For Gawd's sake take a good walk around in it before you buy it! Because if it's a few centimetres too long, that super-drapey fabric will somehow work it's way into that area between your legs and become a camel-toe flag!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I made a shawl

When I told the boy that I was thinking of knitting a shawl, he muttered something about rocking chairs and walking sticks. No surprise there, since that would be the expected response from anyone who isn't a knitter (donnasoowho, I'm looking at you).

Maybe he thought I should be more productively spending my knitting time on his surf pullover.

But I started my shawl, and wasn't able to put down until it was all finished and needed nothing more than a blocking.

And now it's finished. For your information, I intend to wear it around me like a big scarf - not like an old-lady shawl (which only the young and hip, or the old and hip-replaced,  could get away with).

Slightly more detail on Ravelry.

Help - caterpillars are killing our swan plant!

This summer we got a much bigger swan plant than the one we had last year, then covered it in plastic mesh to discourage monarch butterflies from laying eggs on it until it was nice and big.

By the time I removed the mesh, the plant had doubled in size and - to my surprise - there was already a fat caterpillar there.

Not long after that caterpillar went through its cycle and left the nest, about a billion tiny new caterpillars appeared! (More like about 20 - but still a lot).

And now they have devastated our plant. I tried laying bits of pumpkin about because my hairdresser say they liked it, but that's had very little effect.

I just hope they'll hurry up and make like a chrysalis already, before every single leave is chomped.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"It's easy" he said...

"...just press the top of the crack to turn it on or off, and press the bottom of the crack to get the disk out".

The boy has been trying to teach me how to use the new Playstation console, which he has hooked up to the telly so that we can play Blue Ray DVDs on it.

I'll freely admit that I'm not the geekiest person around, nor am I a total Luddite. What I am, is someone who suspects that someone is designing gear that makes us non-geeks look like utter fools.

Like, why the hell would you design a console with no visible buttons, unless it was clever enough to hear us tell it what to do?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fingerless mitts for over-knitters and computer-bound folks

I made these for a work friend, who has OOS from too much computer use.

I'm always on the verge of OOS myself, because I spend all day on a computer and all my spare time knitting.  So I thought I'd make her these. She'll probably find them too warm though, because she lives in balmy Auckland.

The pattern is by kiwiyarns knits.


TLM knows how to relax, alright. As soon as she gets home, she takes off her socks and leaves them on the living room rug for as long as it takes for me or the boy to get sick of accidentally treading on them.

Sometimes it takes all evening. I just refuse to pick up other people's socks.

I guess I should be glad she has stopped taking off her leggings as well.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is it that time of year/her life already?

Easter is a couple of months away, but - having looked at a couple of holiday accommodation websites - it seems that a lot of well-organised folk have already decided where they are going for the long Easter weekend.

At first it was looking quite desperate (bringing to mind our last-ditch attempt to book a weekend by the beach last summer, only to end up in a place absolutely miles away and with a terribly uncomfortable bed - though everything else about the place was fine).

But then I realised that it's just the places on one particular website which are all going fast. If I picked a less popular site there seemed to be more availability. So there is hope for fun in the sun with our favourite family-to-holiday-with.

The other thing I've been busy thinking about is the retirement village which my mum wants to move into. She's probably got in mind one of those one-two bedroom independent apartments which pretty much leave the resident up to their own devices (possibly even cooking odorous foods). She was looking at those a couple of years ago and very nearly went ahead (until a chance remark by a total stranger put her off).

What my brother and I have in mind is a serviced bedsit or smaller one-bedroom place which provides main meals and some housework, and is much closer to the communal areas. But they are much, much smaller ( and because they only have a kitchenette, there's no overhead thingy to whisk away the scent of salted fish and other "interesting" smells.)

It doesn't take much, but my mind is all full up with the above...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Something I whipped up in the holidays

One of the first things I did when I took time off before Christmas was to let TLM spend all day on her computer.

This wasn't because she'd been particularly good, but because I had an urge to sew and knew it was going to take me all day.

And this is what I ended up with -
I used one of the boy's unwanted business shirts to make the front and back yoke and the centre front, some chambray for the sides and some scarlet bias binding to go around the neck, armholes and hem. I used a Vogue sewing pattern to make this, and modified it so that I could life my arms up without also lifting up the dress to disrespectful heights. Please excuse the batwings...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day!

The boy is such a romantic, even after ....(I'm thinking...)...12 years together.

Last night he brought home a dozen long-stemmed pinky-orange roses (though one promptly beheaded itself while I was trying to get them into the vase), and a mystery present which he put in the fridge.

So I realised I had very little time to get him something back (eeek!)

Then, the universe helped me out. When I got to my lunchtime hair appointment, I was told (very apologetically) that my stylist was running 15 minutes late. Would that be a problem?

You bet it would! Well not really, except that I'd be late back to work. But I seized the opportunity to re-book for tomorrow afternoon instead - which meant that my lunch break was now free for present and card shopping.

So I got the boy a card that has a picture of a Star Wars storm trooper on the front and the words "Super Trooper". And for a present I got him a Hello Kitty Frankenstein - that's a Hello Kitty doll which is puce green and has bolts on the sides of her head. Super-cute in a geeky sort of way. Which he loved.

Love and kisses everyone.

p.s. the present in the fridge turned out to be a box of individually chosen designer chocs.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Chinese patient goes back to the drawing board

My mother's shingles (which sounds like an interesting title for a novel, don't you think?) has caused us all much anguish and stress over the last few weeks.

First there was the pain, which must have been excruciating (though of course I can only guess) - bad enough that at one point I think my mum believed she was going to die from it.

There were multiple visits to doctors - to her GP and to after-hours doctors. They variously prescribed her four different medications to treat the pain:

One acted as a muscle super-relaxant and nerve sensitiser, so that she felt as though she could hardly stand and walk - and it hurt her feet when she did.

The next two, prescribed in unison, gave her the shakes (like Parkinsons on the proverbial speed) and pushed her blood pressure to scary heights. (One of the meds is called Tramadol - a more appropriate name would be Tremor-dol.) This lot put her in hospital for a few days.

The last was a cream which apparently works by distracting the nerves with red hot chilli pepper. My mum had to wash this off quick-smart because it made her feel like her skin was on fire.

So she's back on the plain-Jane paracetamol, which probably does little more than shave a wafer-thin edge off the pain.

Boy, is she grumpy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Her last day of freedom

TLM's new school year starts tomorrow, so I took yesterday and today off work in order to get some last hurrahs in.

The forecast for these two days was not promising, but I'd fully expected it to rain and blow- because I am apparently The Weather Jonah.

However it's turned out nice and sunny in the afternoons, which means I could stop bitching about the crappy weather I always get when I take annual leave.

Yesterday we went to the local library for Captain Underpants books (for her) and knitting books (for me), followed by sushi at Yummy Sushi, a walk around the green bits and then a quick visit to see my mum in the hospital. (She went home shortly after our visit and is doing very well thank you very much for asking).

Today we drove out to Petone to visit a new art gallery which a friend of mine helped promote. It was full of great paintings, photos and ceramic art themed around the local wharf - and I would have bought some if I wasn't so stingy. That was followed by lunch at Beanie (great place, loved how they serve kids'  milkshakes in little half-pint milk bottles) with the friend, a walk along the Esplanade, and a visit to Chocolate Story (where I had to get us out of there quickly so as to limit our chocolate spend).

Then we looked and looked for the Holland Road Yarn Company, which for some reason is always hard to find. But of course it was closed - it's closed about 50% of the times I go there - which was really disappointing. I will probably just shop there online from now on because I only go there for the hard-to-get-elsewhere yarns, certainly not for the service.

I'm currently trying to repair a parasol which is a prop for an upcoming dance performance for Chinese New Year celebrations. Fortunately it's just a glue job, rather than one involving patience, thread and a pointy needle.

And then, before we know it, it'll be Tuesday evening and the end of the school holidays.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

That was another one we didn't feel*

Yesterday afternoon TLM and I went out for a spontaneous walk-and-adventure - as in, we'd go somewhere on the coast for a walk to see what we would see.

We ended up at a local rocky beach - particularly handy because it has toilets (something you have to consider when you have a child whose bodily rhythms tend towards the late afternoon).

We spent an hour or so clambering about on the rocks. (Funny how a spot of rock-hopping can tire our your legs eh?) I was a bit nervous a lot of the time because I couldn't be sure TLM could handle some of those sharp rocks and steeps bits on her own. But I didn't want to cramp her style so I let her take the lead and go pretty much where she wanted.

Because I'd accidentally left my phone at home I eventually decided it was time to get home before the boy got worried.

On the drive home, I heard on the radio that there'd been a 6.2 earthquake in our part of the country. If the boy had known we were at the beach during the earthquake he probably would've assumed we'd been washed away in a mini-tsunami. eek!

**Of the three big shakes we've experienced since the start of 2013 I've only managed to actually "experience" one of them even though I was there at the time.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Yet more hats

This weekend I finished two hats which are for a friend of mine and her partner. One of them is made from stash yarn that she gave me, which I thought she'd appreciate -

She's going back to the Northern hemisphere soon, so hopefully they'll come in handy! I used the same pattern for both (Washington Square Hat from Metropolitan Knits) but they look really different eh?

In other news, TLM is very unhappy about starting her school holiday programme tomorrow. When I pressed her, she revealed that it's because there's a mean girl who is is horrible to her - a bully who hasn't hit TLM yet but keeps threatening to. So when I sign her in tomorrow I'll have to have a talk to the manager about keeping an eye on them. I'll also have to reinforce to TLM that she'll need to be assertive and clear about telling the caregivers when the mean girl gets out of line.

And last of all, my mum has the dreaded shingles - at 89! I've heard it's a terrible affliction to get even if you're in the flush of otherwise-best health. For someone like her it must be intolerable. And the pain meds actually make her feel worse, so it's back to the doctor's tomorrow.

Friday, January 03, 2014

The colour pinky-purple

We had a lovely long weekend at Castle Point, joined by some friends who are similarly inclined to play boardgames on rainy (or not-so rainy) days.

There was a day of summery sunshine which allowed our respective daughters to frolic in the sea, roll around in the soft grey sand, and run around until they fell over.

This was followed by a day too windy for sea frolics, but it did clear up around 6pm so we went for a second walk up to the lighthouse.

In between, we played lots of board games. One of the games was Lords of Waterdeep, which - when we play at home - I often win.The boy should not have said this out loud though, because for two consecutive evenings I came last. I can only put it down to either performance anxiety, or the fact that TLM was not playing (and therefore not backstabbing her daddy).

I took my knitting with me, a hat. It took far too long for me to finish it, because I was making up some of the instructions myself. It's finished at last though. More details here.
 And I also finished this super-cropped cardigan (just perfect for those days when the top half of your boobies are feeling a little cold, but the lower half is just fine). More details here.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2014. I don't care about new year's resolutions but there are a few things I would like to happen (or not happen) this year:

no major earthquakes - we had two big ones in my town. It woke us up to the possibility of dying horribly under office rubble, or slowly from lack of earthquake-preparedness. But now that we have learned this lesson, no more earthquakes thanks.

no drought - while I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying the unusual event of no rain for three whole months (just glorious sunshine and warm temps), I appreciate that it's very bad for farmers and gardeners.

no major storms - our household was lucky because we're in an area which is relatively sheltered from severe winds, but others were not so lucky. Nelson, especially, seemed to suffer most from surface flooding and houses tumbling down newly-formed cliffs.

better health for my family - last winter was much milder than normal, so we didn't succumb as frequently (nor as intensely) to the usual viruses that got about. But TLM developed a chronic tickle cough which I hope doesn't turn out to be asthma or anything like that; and I developed bletharitis which is basically dandruff of the eyes. Which is okay if you don't mind looking like one of the more homely characters from True Blood - but not so much for me.

more exercise! I am definitely bigger that I was this time last year. I partly blame my boss, who got into the habit of plying us with chocolate and other sustaining sweets in the afternoon. Then, on the afternoons that she didn't do this, I started popping out of the office to buy myself  a little something…

I will leave you with one of the presents which the boy got me for Christmas (the other being a knitting bag which is decorated with an image of two balls of yarn, and captioned with the eek-making title of "Ball sack"). It is a tea leaf filter and I call it Mister Tea Pants -

Please don't forget to read this blog from the Family Times website. Even if you don't bother voting, just the fact that you are visiting via their website increases my chances of winning a trampoline for TLM to bounce around in.