Monday, December 14, 2015

Starting to feel a lot like Christmas...

The Pohutakawa's a in full blossom all about the neighborhood.
I love this time of year. The garden looks amazing, roses blooming, lushness wherever you look.  The days are longer and you can head to the beach for a quick dip after dinner and the table is overflowing with the fresh season food and fruit that signifies a kiwi Christmas can't be too far away.
Hugo and Renly are both quite partial to an after dinner dip.
The kids finish school this week - so for me that signifies the start to the Summer holidays.  The shopping is all sorted and I am really looking forward to kicking back with the family, catching up with good friends and extended family and even get a good amount of knitting done.
Hugo was so buzzed to be able to see the All Black in Wellington.
Spring saw us visit good friends in Wellington and it also coincided with the Anzac Exhibition at Te Papa (an absolute 'must see', especially if you have children) and the All Blacks victory parade.  It was a chance to visit the Holland Road Yarn company and indulge in all the yarn goodness that Tash has - bliss.
My Doodler, using yarns from my stash, two were spun by us at Design Spun.
I have also been mucking around with another MKAL, this tine Stephen West's 'The Doodler'.  Stephen's patterns are very contemporary, almost avant garde, and the Doodler was a most enjoyable knit.  It have excellent structure and shape, but isn't too fussy in it's design.  I wore it our for the first time this past weekend and I can see me knitting another of these in the future.  So for the first time in ages I have nothing on the needles.  I really enjoyed knitting for our friends daughter and am going to do another project for her, an Oriental Lily using some hand dyed silver toned DK with some homespun of mine for contrast.

Renly guarding one of the 'stash zones'.
But I am yet to discover my 'Summer garment project'.  I have the scraps blanket, but I haven't got anything else in the pipeline.  I am so torn, do I knit stash yarn or do I knit something from Skeinz yarn that I have been dying to try? Not earth shattering decisions I know, but a decision nonetheless.
I am a huge fan of Georgie Hallam's patterns, they fit my shape really well.

Louis Loved Holland Rd - they have a knitted Darlek - he thought that was brilliant!

I have just thrashed all the three patterns I have, the My Favourite cardigan I especially love and am very tempted to swatch a sport weight yarn and reknit in the lighter weight for evening and Autumn wearing.  Yes, I do think that is a good idea - I think I might need to get some swatching started....

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Scrap Happy.

The' Scraps Bag Blanket' get started last night
KAN is been and gone, Spring has arrived and the entire MacBuscke household is gearing up to year end. It's a planning time at work and a time I start undertaking projects that are more about 'mental holiday' than mental breakdown!
The shrug knitted for a friend toddler with the leftovers from my RWC project.
When you are a prolific knitter, as I am, the inevitable happens... Leftovers and scraps.
Anything from two or three balls from a garment project or half a ball or a wee butterfly of colour surviving after a nail biting round of yardage chicken. It's rare that you don't end up with some scraps after your yarn meal.

I recycle the wool scouring bags that arrive at the mill for project and scrap bags.
Mine end up in a cotton wool scouring bag, and if I'm honest, there's more than one rolling around my stash cupboard. I give a massive amount away, especially the smaller amounts, to my aunt who loves knitting these incredible baby and children's beanies for families of the East Coast, north of my home town of Gisborne. She's knitted hundreds of them and they are so well received. Others knit charity blankets or the classic fish and chip jumpers.

Just a small sample of the incredible beanies knitted by my aunt.
For me, I decided several years ago to use all those scraps to knit or crochet projects to make our own home comfortable. There is something very homely and special about items made for comfort, made by you, in your home for the pleasure of your family and friends. They grace the backs of our couch, on the couch, on the beds and loved by myself, the boys' and the animals of our home in equal measure.

Just a couple of the 'Scrappy' projects from last summer.
The thought of knitting in a NZ Summer isn't for all, for me the ritual of doing some yarn craft at night is very much part of my evening 'sleep hygiene' routine and during the school holidays, having a project in my bag to whip out at the beach, pool or over the festive break is welcome. Much talk has been around 'mindfullness' like it is something very new or trendy, but as crafters we all know, and have known for generations, that this is so much more than a 'quaint pastime', I am just so pleased that the mainstream have now caught up. Whatever brings you to the yarn craft door, we will always welcome you with open arms, needles, hooks and yarn!

This is the blanket from a couple of years ago - it is my son's favourite.
So as the sunshine days become longer and brighter, a cotton bag had been retrieved, a hook dusted off and the beginnings of an organic square design started. This as mindfullness and as long as a glass of chardonnay is attached - I'm happy!

One of my first 'scrappy' projects - a log cabin cushion.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

KAN Krush

Completing another Knit August Nights is a little bit like the days and weeks that follow after your wedding.  So much work and anticipation building up to the event and then 'poof' it's all over.  This years event was epic.  The expansion at the venue cope beautifully in the expansion of the event, Ahuriri put it's best foot forward with stunning weather and the KAN-nanites made the most of their time away and had a great time.  The best way to share with you what transpired is to show you a snippet of the main Instagram feed from the event #knitaugustnights2015 - also check out #kan2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Not such a bitter pill.

The brilliant Ruth Pretty wearing her new Herb Garden gloves knitted by me
It's a little over a month until Knit August Nights kicks off, and I am staggered at how it seems to roll around faster every year.  I am really excited about this years event.  More people, new traders, amazing classes all and the new upgraded venue - what's not to get excited about.
It's been nice to knit from my Unwind/KAN stash - Zauberball from Vintage Purls

I have also been getting through a tremendous amount of knitting over recent weeks.  As the temperature plummeted in Napier, but knitting output has shot up.  I have also been tinkering with some hand dying as an experiment for work, it is so much fun!  If you haven't tried your own dying at home, you must, it's brilliant.  For me it's a little like "Coals to Newcastle", but I had a whale of a time, following a simple You Tube tutorial & letting my imagination run wild.  Check out my Yarn Kitchen Blog for full details of how I got on.

One of skeins dyed during my "Home Dye" experiemnt

I also upgraded my de-piller.  I found a larger version in Briscoes ($19 when not on special & lets face it they are always in Sale) and this gadget is my new favourite knit toy.  I have given all my woolies the once over & what a brilliant way to freshen up your wardrobe.  It is like getting a new garment all over again.

My new favorite battery operated device!
Pilling is a natural side effect of knitting with natural fibres and shouldn't be feared.  This simple gadget is so easy to use and quite soothing.  It was so fun that the boys all wanted to have a play and ended up de-pilling their own vests.

Pilled on the left and depilled on the right - I love this gadget!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dreaming of Island Time

I really miss this view!
Shit it's cold! Like really, really cold.  So cold that Renly refuses to go walkies and Louis is pretty much glued to the front of the fire.  I heard the Metservice calling the big chill this morning a one in 25 year event, all I know I would much rather be back in Rarotonga, which is where I was this time last month.
What more can you want - Good friends, good food, good wine!

This trip was the first time that we travelled with friends. It was great to be able to share our favourite spot, hang out, eat & chill.  Rarotonga is a foodies paradise & ironically I cook more when I am on holiday than I do when I am at home.  This is because time pressure is non existent, the fresh ingredients are incredible and there is something about creating a meal that speaks to the place you are in.
The awesome Te Manava - worth every penny
We stay at Te Manava villas in Muri beach.  These are perfect for those who are happy to be independent whilst on holiday.  The villas are all privately owned, so a bit like a posh book a bach of sorts.  The owners take great pride in making sure the villas are well equipped and Te Manava's managers Todd & Jane are just so unbelievably helpful should you require anything.

Just a few canapes with drinks
We also have some friends that live on the island, so it wasn't long that after a little foraging, a little shopping and a little gifting the larder was fully stocked.  Dinner was the centre piece meal of each day, which still left plenty of time to sneak out for a stunning coffee and cake at LBV in Muri.

In between all this cooking, eating, foraging and coffee drinking I also managed to get heaps of knitting done - this year was a collection of baby jackets, so quick, colouful and fun to knit up.
So as I sit here and shiver now, I can only daydream of trying to get back to island time... maybe next year eh?
Just a sample of the island themed knitting
The mouthwatering cabinet at Cafe LBV Muri
Just don't count calories! LBV Muri

Monday, May 11, 2015

Knitting broke the Internet!

Renly out at Pakowhai Country Park - Just stunning this time of year.

The Knit August Nights registrations opened this month.  Friday May 1st saw a frenzy of knitters all hit my registration page, at exactly the same time, for the same class and the servers just tossed their ones and zeros up in the air and packed a sad in protest.  I had worked very hard to improve some of the kinks from last year and reduce the stress I place myself under with KAN and here I was at 10.10am on Friday the 1st with heart palpitations, sweaty palms and a desire to dive under the duvet to escape the constantly chiming telephone, email alerts and calls.

I was so excited - then KANnannites broke the internet!

But that's why you hire professionals.  Those incredible people who leap into the pool with those ones and zeros and start making sense, rebuilding and regathering some order to the chaos.  It was the most incredible thing, the minute the problem rectified the mobile fell silent and and the email started chiming with the sound of successful registrations and I could breathe a sigh of relief.

It takes a LOT of good beer to make great knitting
The new registration system (which really is brilliant - I am such a convert to Lil Regie) has meant that instead of being strapped to my laptop wading through the classes and numbers and trying to sort all of them out, I have had time to spend with the family and get into the Autumnal groove.
The MacBuscke Slow Roasted Lamb
Getting into that groove for me means plenty of knitting, spinning, slow cooking and walks with the family.  Hawkes Bay at this time of year really is stunning.  Warm sunny days, cool evenings, rich colours and fabulous harvest food everywhere.  I have been knitting with the three new yarns we now have at Skeinz and I have just started a series of baby knits.  It's weird knitting something so small after knitting for myself and even the boys, it's just so.... quick.

The improvised baby cardigan - that's just one afternoons knitting!
In typical MacBuscke fashion I browse the hundreds of baby patterns I own and the end up casting on and free forming a germ of an idea.  Will it end up being written down and published?  Probably not.  Do I care? Definitely not!  So where's my wine and my knitting.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Just Cruisin'

Lifou - our last shore day.

I have never been on a cruise before, but recently the opportunity presented itself to try a cruising as a family holiday.  The logic was trying to find a family holiday where "Mum" actually got a break - let's face it, all those mothers out there know, when you head away as a family, it is very rarely a break away for us.
Hugo managed to break his elbow a week out from sailing!

What could go wrong?  My chronic motion sickness?  The Ginger's autistic sensitivities?  Hugo breaking his elbow badly a week from the trip?

Well none of the above.  The combination of Scopoderm patches, Sealegs and Chardonnay worked a treat on any queasiness I may have had, the Ginger coped incredibly well - relishing his independence and once Hugo accepted that swimming was a no go because he did indeed break his elbow a week before the holiday, all was good - scratch that - great!

Both boys LOVED Sydney - so much for them to do & see
We cruised with Royal Caribbean from Sydney.  So it was also a chance to visit Sydney again, a city that has smartened herself up considerably since my last visit and was most enjoyable.  We stayed centrally in town, so an easy walk to Pitt/George/Market street shopping areas.
The knitting started on the plane and continued throughout the cruise
My goals weren't necessarily the shopping, for me it was seeing if I could get a break before the crazy KAN season started.  Registrations open at the end of this week & after burning out last year, I am very keen to ensure this doesn't happen again.  I packed a full adult sized project for me, ambitious, as usually I only get the most mindless or small knitting project completed when on family holidays as I am running around after the kids constantly.

Isle of  Pines - our favourite shore stop
This was not the case - it took a could of days for all of us to just work out our own ship board rhythm.  Like working around the failure of the kids club (far too noisy and chaotic for Louis & deemed a 'prison' by Hugo), and realising that the kids were not going to go overboard and that the incredibly nice and obliging staff of RC were indeed there to make sure you have a great cruise.  We gave the boys their key cards and independence to roam the ship, make new friends (which they did) and return to the cabin if they needed to recharge (essential for the Ginger).

Selfie with the Ging!
So when Phil and I found our little niche on the ship that was easy for the boys for find us and a great spot for us to chill, knit, relax and join any on board activities as we saw fit.  The then mix of shore days (3 days in total in New Caledonia) and sea days, amazing food, drink and a boat load of very nice Australians (pacified because they one the cricket world cup on day one) made it a thoroughly enjoyable holiday for all.

We even got to see the Sydney Easter Parade.
Would we cruise again?  For family MacBuscke - yes.  Armed with the do's and don'ts that work for us I am confident that cruising is a great, relaxing for all, family holiday.

Dreadful picture (taken by Hugo) but proof that I completed my project!
As for me, since my return - I have been beavering away on getting Knit August Nights ready for the opening of registrations.  I am so energized about this year.  I have the most diverse line up of classes, tutors and traders all wrapped up in the awesome setting of Ahuriri.  Haven't been to KAN?  Check out the KAN website and book your own Winter Napier knit escape.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Making a full retreat.

Some of the yarns Skeinz had available at Unwind
As I compose this Tropical Cyclone Pam is bearing down on the east coast of NZ and here in Napier we are on the fringe of Pam's wrath.  Weather like this makes you want to retreat into your shell and wait the storm out, in my case with either knitting for spinning.  But no, I am at work watching the weather rapidly deteriorate desperate to get home where poor Hugo is 'Duvet surfing' with a nasty cold.

I was desperate to scan the QR code on this shawl at Unwind!
 It isn't all doom and gloom, I have been very lucky over the past two weeks to visit two fibre craft retreats.  Firstly Unwind in Dunedin and latterly this last week, the Creative Fibre Eastern region retreat.  As the creator of the Knit August Nights retreat I really value the importance of these events for those that a attend and the wider fibre craft community.

The stunning Sue Schreuder - She taught at Unwind and is also taking a class at KAN 2015
There is something very special about being able to gather together with like minded people, get inspired and energised.  Speak the same language - conversations that would be lost on a lay person are exciting and educational at the retreat.  That goes without mentioning all the other topics that get covered off... Like the knitwear in the Outlander TV series or what books we have been reading.

The efforts from my woven Crochet class - so much fun.
I love the fibre craft community as they are such a passionate bunch, they keep me coming to work week after week.  At Unwind I attended a class, the first I managed in years as I am always working within retreats to enjoy some class time.  It was brilliant.  I leaned a new technique marrying crochet and weaving together from Deb Moore at Stitch Seekers (Famous for the Men in Knitwear calendar and Outlaw yarn), something I am now itching to try out again on a project I had pegged using a more traditional for of crochet, this alone was worth attending the retreat for!

Creative Fibre HB Retreat - I so wanted to abscond with this wheel!
So if you have ever considered going to a retreat, but have never been brave enough - do it!  We have two amazing independent retreats in Unwind in Dunedin (March 5th - 7th 2016) and Knit August Nights right here in Napier (August 28th - 30th 2015), plus Creative Fibre frequently have retreats in their regions - contact your local delegate for more information.

Its compulsory to celebrate a birthday with Champagne!
This past weekend also saw me click over another birthday.  It was great to have such a mellow day, just before the storm hit.  Breakfast in bed and a few quiet drinks with friends that popped by.  It's nice to cherish the little things & appreciate all the wonderful well wishes received on the day.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Making a Splash!

Louis first time in a yacht - he was transfixed! 
Today marks the first day of Autumn & it leaves you pondering where on earth did Summer go.  This Summer has been stunning and it has been great to be able to get out with the boys and soak up all that the good weather has to offer, but also our wonderful Ahuriri play ground

Hugo takes the plunge

Both boys were fortunate enough to go to a birthday party last week of a school friend.  So what do you do when you have a party with over a dozen boisterous boys?  You get our in the sunshine & get wet!  This family are incredible, with eight sons of their own  (yes I did say 8), they put on the perfect boys adventure with all sorts of water activities, laughter, games and all finished off with homemade pizza and ice cream birthday cake.

Louis even had time to make a splash!
For me, the end of Summer signifies it is time to head south to Unwind in Dunedin.  KAN's sister event, Unwind is so much fun.  Similar, yet quite different - I love it.  I will be there with Skeinz yarns & I have also taken some time to take a class, something I never get to do at KAN, so I can't wait.  Dunedin has a fabulous energy, perfect for setting the vibe for my yarn based endeavours over the Winter months & also a mini break away from all thing motherly!

Renly attacks Summer like he does each day, each week & each month!