Friday, October 31, 2008

I guess if I don't like it I could smoke it?

When it comes to selecting a yarn for purchase or a given project I have to admit I am quite, well, sometimes downright unadventurous. I love natural fibres, more specifically those that come from animals with hooves, paws & sometimes claws. Wool, primarily (lets face it, that's what's in my blood, I grew up on a five and a half thousand acre sheep & cattle station), but I also love Alpaca, mohair, cashmere, angora & silk & blends of all of the aforementioned. I have even spun my British Shorthair pussy cat's fur with wool in an ill fated attempted at making yarn, so when it comes to other sources of yarn I am a little dubious.

Whilst I have to admit the plethora of 'feathers' type synthetic yarns that swept the nations about 5 years ago can certainly be credited with getting people to start knitting or reacquaint themselves with their needles, the only yarn of this ilk I purchased frustrated me so much I ended up flogging it off on Trade Me (New Zealand's version of EBay) & you could say I have been wary ever since. However in recent times I have been breaking out a little & have been experimenting with other fibres.

It started with silk, look I know it's still from an animal, but it's an insect, it doesn't bleat. I bought a merino/silk blend & was bewitched with it's lustrous sheen, lovely stitch definition & it's ultra hard wearing ability to stand up to the rigours of been made into a busy toddlers jumper & with stand masses of play, food & washing. I then tried socks for Dr Phil, the first pair I made 3 winters ago & he's still wearing them, hmmmm, maybe there's something to this?

Next came cotton, I know, I know, that's hardly a new fibre, but I had only every used cotton to make dishcloths, not garments, so when my local yarn store had some cotton crepe for just $1 a ball I succumbed, 5 balls later I had made some funky wide legged pants for Hugo, which washed, and wore, washed and wore...

I have since dallied in Bamboo (nice to knit with, but hasn't lit my fire) and now I am onto Hemp. The 'great green', something that gets people very excited in my old neck of the woods, but this isn't the potent kind, it's the textile kind. Dyed in a wonderfully rich colours, it's quite coarse to the touch, but I am told after it's first wash it softens up considerably & creates a very durable fabric that has a look similar to linen. So as usual I fell for a fetching lime green & a rich blue & have started a wide leg pant for Louis to wear this Summer. So far progress is good, albeit the fact that knitting for long stretches the hemp is a little rough on the hands, I am keen to get it finished & give it a wash to see the final effect. I was a little rash & bought four 100gm skeins of each colour, so I will have plenty for Louis pants, a pair for Hugo & probably even a top if all goes well - maybe this hemp is as intoxicating as it's narcotic cousin?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something old, something new...

I have had a great week this week. For starters its a 4 day weekend here in Hawkes Bay, (our anniversary day Friday with Labour Day Monday) & my cousin Michael is coming to stay from Wellington to see Hugo for the first time. I can't wait, we haven't seen each other for about a year & we are very close, I lived with him & his mother from the time I was 10 & we both cared for her when she fell ill with cancer & passed 4 years ago. He's a couple of years younger than me, single, drop dead gorgeous & frantically busy finishing off his electricians training (he discovered that his 2 degree's were not really helping his future career prospects & at 30 decided to retrain to something more hands on) so in need of a much deserved break.

Because of the busy weekend pending I have been frantic getting all my 'WIP' finished. Naomi's pants came up a treat & the vest I was designing & mucking around with has been finished & looks great on Hugo & last night I finished Nina's jacket, just in time for her birthday on Saturday.

It's the first time I have knitted for Nina, as at 3 I am very nervous to whether she will like it or not, like most 3 year old little girls, she has very clear ideas about what she likes & dislikes. I think I have been safe, it's pink (her favourite colour), has a lace trim (so suitably girly) & has been finished off with a large matching pink broach.

I am especially thrilled about the broach. It was my grandmothers. Myrtle was a force of nature, a feisty woman from strong Irish ancestry who was a publican until she separated from my grandfather on the day I was born. So my entire life I knew her as a strong hardworking woman who was fiercely independent & in latter years cantankerous to boot! She died when I was 18 at just 68, but left me a large collection of jewellery, some more valuable than others. Each piece had a story, like the diamond ring she bought with the pub cheque book the day I was born, after she found my grandfather in bed with another woman, to the pink broach purchased in the States when she went to visit her sisters (both war brides who met their American servicemen husbands when stationed in NZ during WWII) in the 1950's. Every piece had meaning to her.

So when I was looking for something to finish Nina's jacket I thought I would look through all of Myrtles bit's & there it was, the opalescent pink broach, just the right shade with a story & a twinkle in the eye of the great grandmother that Nina never got to meet.

PS I have been given a reprieve on the fusty cardy, Dr Phil reckons he won't need it over the upcoming Summer months - Phew, that give me at least another 6 months to get it finished!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Elections & Roses

For the first time ever in my voting life I am an 'undecided voter'. I watched the first of the head to head debates last night (honestly, actually only the last half hour, but that was enough) & I have to say I am still undecided. I am a person who isn't adverse to change, but not for change sake, but right now I am not overly thrilled with either of the offerings available, so it means I will actually have to do some serious policy digging on the issues that concern me & will probably make a decision based on a single platform - ouch, too much serious thinking!

I have to admit, I have actually found the US presidential race far more interesting than our own. I lived there as a student almost 20 years ago & studied politics for a year & have been hooked ever since. Now if I were voting there - no problem, I know who I like & what he stands for, especially from an international stand point. The interesting thing about the American system, unlike the NZ one, is its depth of democracy & the diversity of all it's constituents. Let's face it, the US is made up of 50 'countries' more so than States, each one as individual as the next, so imagine the complexities of getting them united on anything - I am stunned they managed to get the 'bailout' bill passed so quick - that would have to be some sort of record to fast track that through both houses & the exec so fast - with all of that I am actually thankful that our system is relatively straight forward. Does this help me make a decision, no it does not!

Oh well, back to something I'm not undecided about, knitting. Something I have been doing a lot of during these debates, news & election rah, rah, rah. I am please to say I finished Naomi's baby bootlegs made in the Koigu KPPPM. I have learned the lesson why all proponents of hand painted yarns recommend to knit off 2 balls for better colour distribution, it is surprising how the colours can differ within the same batch - but the still look great. I am now finishing the lace trim on Nina's jacket for her birthday next week & I have another vest for Hugo to finish the edgings off & then I can think about another project.

How is Dr. Phils Fusty cardy coming? Don't ask!! Time for me to chill out & take time to smell the roses!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paradise lost or is it gone....

Boy does time fly! I honestly don't know where our holiday time went. I hadn't been to Rarotonga for 7 years & was thrilled to see that the local economy was thriving & the locals were telling me that what was holding them back was finding enough people to fill all the jobs required to keep the throngs of tourists like me happy.

I want to say a BIG thank you to the staff at The Pacific Resort Muri Beach, who were wonderful & the cabin crew on the two Air New Zealand flights that we flew with 'terror toddler' who were very patient & didn't make be feel like I was the worst mother in the world!!

Did I manage to knit? Yes I did. Did I finish anything? No I did not!

I am 80% finished on Nina's jacket - just the lace trim & sewing to finish (the progress was photographed in the last blog) & wee Naomi's baby bootlegs are 50% finished - I need to get my A into G & ball up the last skein (a job I just hate) to finish them off. Add that to Dr Phil's Fusty Cardy & a vest experiment I started prior to departure - that leaves 4 projects in progress - my most ever, and you know what it's like after a holiday, motivation is at an all time low. I look at the housework jobs I left, I haven't yet unpacked the boys' bag, Louis is being weened off his dummy (it's been left with a boy in Rarotonga, that our story & we're sticking with it!!) which has been relatively ok, it's day 4 & he's only asked for it once, make that twice (he's upstairs refusing to go down for his midday nap), so even finding a quiet 5 minutes to complete these projects is a real mission.

Oh well, my photo's are due back today, I guess I will just have to look at the azure blue oceans & escape in my mind & hope like mad I'm not too tired to get some knitting done once the boys' have gone to bed...

Aitutaki - the most beautiful lagoon on earth.